Karen Bayly

Author and Copywriter

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The People of “Fortitude”

Much of my writing inspiration comes from free writing. Free writing is a technique in which you write continuously for a set period (say ten to fifteen minutes) without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic.

I especially love free writing to prompts. I’ve done many writing prompt courses online over the years and have amassed a lot of useful ideas and character beginnings. I’ve also written some complete rubbish and stuff that is downright embarrassing, but that’s free writing for you.

Over the past few years, I've been writing to prompts created by Cynthia Morris as part of her Original Impulse course “The Devoted Writer”. These have inspired the novel I’m writing now (working title: “The Witch Who Wasn’t”). However, the first draft of “Fortitude” was written over five years ago and many of its characters were inspired by Jill Badonsky’s “The Muse Is In” Writing Club. Here’s how.

Corazon Paget

The prompt that inspired the scene where Corazon is staring out over the forsaken garden asked the writer to take two lines from a book you like and use them to write at least three paragraphs. In the original piece, the first line of the first paragraph and first line of the third paragraph were both from the first page of the first chapter of “The Difference Engine” by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Much of this original draft made it into the novel verbatim, although the lines from “The Difference Engine” are no longer there.

Oh, and the forsaken garden? Inspired by the poem of the same name by Algernon Charles Swinburne.

The Lady Paget?

Parthena Ripley and Artemis Devereaux

The two sisters began life from a prompt that suggested creating several character names and writing a single line to describe each one. From the outset, Parthena knew exactly who she was...

“Parthena Ripley was as brilliant as she was beautiful, and males mourned that her interests did not include men.”

The Scientist by Costurero Real

One thing writing has taught me is that characters, like children, have personalities and wills of their own. They often insist on doing things I’d rather they didn’t. This brings me to Artemis.

When I first created Artemis, she wasn’t even Artemis. She was Alicia.

“Alicia Devereaux knew her way around the world... and back again.”

Once I changed her name to Artemis, all the things I’d planned for Alicia suddenly became irrelevant. I wrote words and scenes that took Artemis’s arc in a different trajectory from the one I’d planned for Alicia. She grew from a slightly insipid character to a woman with a huge heart and courage to spare. I’m glad I listened to her.

Pilot Girl by Johanny de Wet

Titus Johannes

Titus began life as Titus Jones and stepped onto the page thanks to a prompt about popping and bubbling. This is the first paragraph of that free write:

“Titus Jones was a man who knew when to stop; it was starting that so often eluded him.  It wasn’t that he was devoid of ideas, rather the opposite really. His mind was always popping and bubbling with plans for machines, blueprints of inventions which defied the confines of scientific thought, and incredible adventures of wonder and discovery.”

Like the original draft for Corazon, much of what I wrote for this prompt made the final cut.

Steampunk Inventor

And the rest?

Like all writers, some times it's a mystery where my characters or story lines originate. I suspect they are a distillation of everything I’ve ever seen, read, or experienced. As a result, the origins of Viola Winslow, Luther Winslow, Silas Begby, and others remain hidden from me. However, I based some of Nathanial Devereaux’s looks and manner on Tom Mison’s portrayal of Ichabod Crane in the “Sleepy Hollow” TV series.

Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane

Quote from "Fortitude"...



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