O I have a treat for you all today on #IrishWritersWed with a fantastic post about ‘Plot-Walking’ with Jonathan Kaye.
Jonathan kindly supplied some amazing images he has taken from his home county of Waterford on the South East Coast of Ireland. Jonathan divides his time between Ireland and Dallas, Texas but I think it’s fair to say from reading this feature where his heart lies.
Please do read on….
by Jonathan Kaye
I love a book with a clever plot – a plot that keeps me reading far too long into the night, one that means I’m late to pick up the wee lad from school (again!), one that sees the bases of my saucepans burnt to a cinder as well as the dinner ingredients they contained somewhat, shall we say, overdone … because, well, y’know, I just couldn’t tear myself away. I’m sure you’ve been there! For me, as a reader, the plot is everything. If it’s twisty and turny and clever and surprising and smart I guarantee you I will keep reading. Yes, the characters have to have some depth and, yes, the writing has to have some structure and, yes, a bunch of typos will make me wince … but none of these things will stop me reading – as long as the plot is good enough.
In a nutshell, I’m a sucker for a plot!
So when I write, that’s where I start.
For me, however, plot development doesn’t tend to involve much writing.
Rather, it involves thought. A great deal of thought. Deliberate, detailed, constructive, creative, focused and often quite forensic thought. I guess you might say I think my way thoroughly through a storyline before I try to write it. And in doing so, I attempt to close all the loopholes in advance of my characters opening them on me!
That way when the actual writing process begins I know where I’m going and I know how to get there
Now I don’t sit at a keyboard to think.
I only sit there to tap keys.
In order to get the initial creative juices flowing and the thought processes up and running, I walk. I get up early, slip on a pair of good, solid shoes and make my way down the quiet country road that leads from my house to a magical, peaceful place called Ballyquinn Beach.
From there I either take a right and head for the pretty seaside village of Ardmore or a left to find myself in a world of dramatic seascapes and clifftop isolation.
I’m lucky, I guess, to live in a place that really does ‘fill up my senses’ (as that John Denver classic puts it).
I don’t know exactly how it works but it feels like there’s a natural energy out there that I can tap into and use in a way that somehow amplifies my own desire to be creative. It’s in the wind. The waves. The raw elements. The storms that blow in from the west. The fragile, sunny, spring mornings. The dew on the grass. The frost in the winter. And (because, let’s face it, it’s Ireland) the rain that so often lashes against my coat. It’s in all of those things.
And when I walk through them from week to week, from season to changing season, I can almost feel that energy seep into me. Like a physical thing. Helping me think in ways that are clearer, more focused, often more lateral and certainly more productive.
Round Tower, Ardmore
I used to walk in the lead up to exams when I was a teenager in school. I used to walk when I worked in advertising – often coming up with the headlines, taglines and slogans demanded by clients as I made my way along empty tracts of sand, recording copywriting concepts into my phone.
And these days I find myself walking whenever a germ of a fictional idea demands a little incubating – or when a character needs developing – or, crucially, when a plot needs plotting (which is the case right now with the onset of book number two!) My wife has got used to me disappearing for a few hours at a time. ‘Oh you’re off on one of your plot walks,’ she says. It’s become a standard phrase in our house. Part of the working-day vocabulary.
A ‘plot-walk’ makes as much sense as a ‘coffee-break’ or a ‘conference-call.’
Finally, when walking I always carry my favourite camera and a few lenses with me. One of my hobbies is digital photography, and my long and solo walks provide me with a great opportunity to shoot the natural and historical landscape I’m so blessed to inhabit.
So, I thought I’d include a handful of photos here to give you a feel for my immediate environment and what I love about the Irish coastline and countryside.
Thanks for reading and looking.
Lookout Tower, Cliff walk.
McKenna’s Castle, Ardoginna
Thank you so much Jonathan for such an interesting post and for these stunning photos from the Sunny South East.
I was fortunate to read a copy of Jonathan’s debut thriller After The Affair and you can read my review HERE
Jonathan Kaye grew up in a small village on the south coast of Ireland. It was one of those villages where everyone knew everyone and the gossip was ‘mighty’!
Jonathan graduated in 1995 with a Degree in English Literature and after a couple of years of working in a book shop (surprise, surprise!) he fell into the world of design, advertising and marketing.
He stayed in the corporate world for a decade until his wee lad was born, at which point he set himself up as a freelance copywriter and stay-at-home dad, juggling blue-chip clients with brown-chip nappies.
It was when he turned 40 that he figured it was now-or-never with regard to something he’d promised himself for a long time – to write a novel. He decided to combine that project with building a house. He reckoned you could never have enough going on in your life. Three years later the house was built and the novel was finished. Then he moved to the US, just for the hell of it!
Jonathan now lives with his wife and son between Dallas, Texas and Waterford, Ireland – depending on the weather and the mood he’s in. (Courtesy of Amazon)