Author Crush Month – Kathleen Damp Wright

One of the things I love most about Kathleen is her ability to ask you questions about your book until it’s either much better, or you want to scream because you don’t know the answers yet! And she’s got great idea starters on her blog that really get my creativity racing. I also love how good she is at quirky characters and crazy situations. I had to ask her to join us and tell us how she finds such great ideas. Enjoy!


By The What If Girl, Kathleen Damp Wright

It’s the Love Month at Routines for Writers, so I’ve gotta love it.

Love what?

Three things:
•    Gotta love my brain
•    Gotta love my characters
•    Gotta love my journey

I love to play
I like to scoop a handful of water and heave it into the air so that Cash the Wonder Dog will leap and bite the splatters. I like to play with my husband and bike places we’ve never been and spin more intensely than we ever have. I like to play with my food and put things together that haven’t been together before. A Chinese stir fry bundled into a tortilla and dipped into BBQ sauce. A square of cheese, a half a pecan, a spish of peanut butter.

I gotta love my brain
I like to play when I am splashing around to find out who my female lead’s (the shero) friends are. I jot down some of Shero’s personality traits and start heaving handfuls of thoughts as to who she might click (or clique) with. Someone like her? Still tossing…Like her in what areas? How not like her? How so different, they continually can’t believe they are even friends? Splatter! How different that they agree that if they’d known each other in junior high they would have never spoken to each other? Heave, splatter, bite—I keep playing until my boys and girls have their pool of peers.

I gotta love my characters
If I’m going to end up with characters that aren’t like everyone else’s, I’ve got to let them leap. No matter how perfect the posse, my shero isn’t going to go anywhere in her story unless she leaps. I’ll play at taking her places she hasn’t been, more intensely than she’s ever been. (Warning: This can be extremely messy—which is very good for your story.) What does she want on the outside of her heart first: What does she want to prevent? What does she want to pursue? What does she want to possess? I play with prevent, pursue, possess because 1) the alliteration is easy to remember when I’m out and about and scribbling notes into my iPaq, 2) they are passionate verbs which naturally lead my characters to leap WIDER, WILDER & WHAT-IF-ier and, 3) they put pictures in my mind of chases, hunts, and secrets, which SO DELICIOUSLY leads smack into the third way to get my characters to leap…the “what gets in their way.”

Because her wants are so wild, her reasons for the wants will be wild as well. And she MUST have reasons. While she might not yet know the reason or have a completely opposite take on the reason, I need to know her heart cry…her why at 3 a.m. Writing articles call this MOTIVATION. I like the question better—Why? Why does she want this? I get an answer and I ask of that answer….why? And I keep going until something unexpected pops out and, oh, baby, has she  LEAPED DEEP. Yippee! Then I go through and love her through the internal—what does she want, why does she want it, what gets in her way.

I gotta love the journey
That the first astronauts were off course about 95% of the time on their way to the moon is comforting. I am not less because something didn’t work. I am not less because someone else is accomplishing more. I merely keep moving forward. I’ll play with something new, maybe combine it with something that seems so NOT connected. As John Maxwell says, I “fail forward” and count it as productively moving toward what does and will work.

Love your brain and turn it loose
Love your characters and let ‘em leap
Love your journey and fail forward.

You might develop a crush on your writing.

Kathleen Damp Wright caught, rather than sought, the moniker The What If Girl. She’s a fiction coach for beginning and multi-published writers, writes her own fiction, and blogs on her site . Plus she “gets” to teach writing to junior and high school students in an educational co-op. In the Wasatch Mountains, she writes and plays and not always in that order. Catch her on also as The What If Girl.

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