Today debut author Bethany Neal is at The Hiding Spot talking My Last Kiss, writing, and how the wrong job led her to the right one! Find out more about My Last Kiss here .
About the Author
Initially, the flashback chapters were the easiest for me to write because they were like little teasers that I could leave tangling in front of the reader (which at the time was me!) to entice them to read (or in my case write) on. They were fun and short and I had a blast writing them.Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
Once the first draft was complete, however, they mutated like turncoat little gremlins into the most difficult writing endeavor I’d faced to date because I had to make sure they told a continuous story without being told in a continuous format. I spent entire days, nay, weeks copying and pasting all of the flashback chapters into a separate Word doc and arranging them into chronological order (not how they appear in the novel) then combing through every detail to make sure somebody didn’t say or do anything that would counteract what they said/did in an earlier or later flashback. It was pull-my-hair-out exhausting to keep everything straight, but totally worth it in the end. At least that’s what I tell myself to remain sane(ish). Writing a novel with an incongruent storyline is not for the faint of heart, friends!
I don’t outline—hangs head shamefully—but I do usually write from beginning to end in an effort to maintain some sense of order. I also try to do a lot of character development (using the exercises in The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman) along the way to help me when I’m unsure of where to take the story next. I write flying by the seat of my pants, but when I take flight it’s charted along the basic flight plan of the Three Act-Four Part structure that I learned from books like Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. If you’re an aspiring author, these are both must reads!Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
I lucked out and got to keep my original title! I’m so happy I did too because there were times (like when I was trudging through flashback hell) that the title MY LAST KISS was the only thing that kept me writing this novel. Every time I doubted the importance of the story or my ability to tell it in a coherent/entertaining way, I always reminded myself that if I saw a book on the shelves at a bookstore called MY LAST KISS I would pick it up. Those three words alone would hook me as a reader, and that was enough to keep me going. If I wanted to read it somebody else would too…theoretically speaking.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration?
Oh, man. This question is such a silly one for me to answer because it’s where I have to admit that I got a college degree in interior design, hated my first job out of school so I started my own photography business instead, substitute taught on the side, and didn’t start writing until I was 27 years old.If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
I guess I could reflect on my totally unrelated job experience and say that I learned how miserable a “regular” job is and became inspired to both escape that reality and generate a profit from being irregular a.k.a. awesome by writing YA. The substitute teaching is technically what kick started my writing though. I had so much down time while the kids were at Art, P.E. or lunch that the voices started to creep in—the character voices, that is. Just so we’re clear on my sanity level.
Forever is most definitely my favorite word. The way it forces your lips into a kissing pucker not once but twice, and just the whole idea of it has always intrigued me. I think we all long for that one thing—whether it’s love or companionship or really great hair—that will be with us for all of time. I also really enjoy how it sounds when movie villains say it.
What: writing. Who: Jared Leto. Where: Paris, France. Happy to say, I’ve visit them all at least once!