To immerse yourself in the Realms that are “SteamPunk”
The first step is: to imagine that you are back in the Victorian age of Invention, Adventure and Discovery, the days of the might of the British Empire, its Industrialisation spreading engineering marvels through out the World.
Iron and Rivets were used to make bridges and towers of wonder, Steam Engines power the factory's machines, the Railways with their Steam Locomotives conveying people and goods at great speeds, Steam Engines power Ocean going ships of enormous size, by “paddle wheel”, “screw”, and “propeller”.
The French pioneers made it possible for Adventurers to travel the air-ways in hot air balloons, and small Blimps. Later, the rise of German technology would see the Airships come of age.
The harnessing and understanding of the wonders of Electricity; the Telegraph, using Morse Code sending a Telegram down a copper wire, at unheard of speeds, heralding a new age of communication.
These are just a few images for your imagination to take hold of.
The second step is: to take on the outlook of the Authors of Speculative Fiction (Scientific Romance), the forerunners of today's Science Fiction writers, in looking forward from the Victorian age, and making the improbable possible!
All manner of Neo Victorian conveyances abound: Giant flying machines that are heavier than air; Ships that travel beneath the waves; Cannons now propel projectiles with Adventurers inside, to moons and other planets; Machines tunnel under foot, and much deeper; Other off worldly machines made for war stride over rooftops with ease; mechanical men and strange automaton like animals are commanded; to be able to travel to any-when, not just anywhere; even an individual can travel via their own one wheeled conveyance!
Imagine the effects of science on the animal kingdom, and our own human bodies: reanimated body parts; men of hideous strength; Animals walking upright on two legs instead of four; men who's bodies turn translucent; domestic animals bred so large, (so that they can feed the World)!
The Third step is: fictional alternate histories, the worlds of “what ifs” leading to a sideways take on past events, pushing ahead to new futures, not all of them turning out to be Utopias!
What if? Computers were mechanical, and the Information age had arrived in 1840's ! What future would see the “Great War” take place? What if we transpose our modern ideas onto a Victorian society? What Worlds would stand-in for our own?
Now to reach the “Punk” that is “Steampunk” turn back on yourself and Imagine a dystopian World of Coal mines, endless factories with smoking chimneys and foggy cities, men being enslaved to machines, so that others in that society can live the high life, oppressive tyrannical Empires holding the populous in their grasp. Now you have the Worlds of the haves and the have nots, the Gentleman and the street Urchin if you will.