Amy Ruttan On How She Went From No Plotting To Plotting #Giveaways

Please welcome author Amy Ruttan. She's talking about Plotting today, and its not for gardening or farming! And there are Giveaways!

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Amy fled the big city to settle down with the country boy of her dreams. When she's not furiously typing away at her computer, she's a mom to three children.
Life got in the way, and after the birth of her second child, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a romance author.

Find her here:

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Over to Amy now...

I always blank when it someone asks me to writing craft post because I feel like I’m still learning and I think sometimes that’s the key to being a writer, learning and growing constantly. Honing your voice, because I think if you come to a point where you think ‘I’m published and I know it ALL! *Laugh maniacally*’ your voice, your writing has a potential to stagnate.

This is why I don’t feel like an expert. However, when I was starting out writing I found so many people willing to help me out and a crazy supportive RWA chapter known as the Toronto Romance Writer’s. So many published writers who were willing to share with me that when I’m asked to write a craft post I share what I know, paying it forward.

I’m going to talk a bit how I start a plot out and how I went from being a non-plotter to a plotter.

When I first started writing I was a total panster, which means I would just sit down and write. I had no direction and no idea where I was going. Which meant my characters really didn’t have a Goal, motivation or a conflict and if there was a conflict it was external, where there needed to be an internal conflict.

One thing my awesome editor taught was “What keeps them apart? What keeps them from having their happily ever after? What keeps them from being together?”

That’s the first thing I think of now. What keeps them from having a happily ever after, because if they can easily solve those questions, then the book will be short.

For example in Pregnant with the Soldier’s Son my heroine Dr. Ingrid Walton didn’t want a relationship after her parent’s messy divorce. She didn’t want children for this reason either, because she didn’t believe in love. She didn’t believe in family. My hero Clint Allen had severe post-traumatic stress disorder from serving overseas; there was nothing he could give to Ingrid emotionally. There was nothing he could give any one emotionally. My brother suffers from PTSD and so I’ve seen first-hand what a devastating effect this has on people. They may look okay from the outside, but inside they’re in agony.

Ingrid and Clint had to overcome these internal conflicts to get their happily ever after. The external, well they had a one night stand about eight months before and when they meet again Ingrid is pregnant.

I get an inkling of an idea from songs, pictures, dreams, but to solidify the plot I have to ask those three questions, build a background for my characters before I can even begin writing.

I don’t have the room in 50,000 words to create large and complicated plot with a cast of secondary characters and antagonists like some of the big books can. I love, love reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood and they have lots of great characters, this big world and baddies which make the series amazing, but in such a short novel like categories I don’t get that luxury.

In Dare She Date Again? I had a lot of great secondary characters (you can ask my editor about the number …then again don’t LOL) and my editor kept telling me cull them back. You have a mob. Cull them.
The secondary characters were distracting from George and Samantha’s internal conflicts.

When I started seriously writing for Harlequin I realized I could no longer fly by the seat of my pants. I had to plot. I outline and sometimes write a full synopsis.


So if I could learn to become a plotter after being a hard core panster, you can too.

Just never stop learning if you want to become a writer. Never give up on your dream. Keep persevering and in the words uttered in Galaxy Quest “Never give up. Never surrender.”
Do you plot or draw an outline before you start writing?

 Amy's new release:


To love again…? 

Single mom and paramedic Samantha Doxtator has been living with a broken heart after losing her husband years ago. Now she's finally back on track and following her dream to become an air ambulance pilot…after training one last student—George Atavik!

Since nearly losing his life in a plane crash, George will not waste the second chance he's been given, and he won't deny the sparks flying between him and his new mentor. Does Samantha dare risk her own carefully guarded heart for another opportunity at happiness?

Read an Excerpt

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  1. Congrats, Amy! Whether a person plots or not, it's really good to ask those questions of your characters. I must admit I love plotting. I need to know so I can see problems before I get too far into a draft.

    1. Yes! Exactly. I can't say I admit to love plotting, but I do it to save me tearing apart my first draft when I'm on a tight deadline.

  2. It's good to hear that you can switch! I still have to admit that I hate plotting, but someday I know that's going to have to change. Until then, I love a little flying by the seat of my pants :)

    1. I still, sometimes fly by the seat of my pants, but not as much any more. *sigh*

  3. I find writing the full synopsis is a big help, as much as I hate writing them. ;)

  4. Great advice! I'm still working on learning to focus on the problems that are keeping them apart. I've (finally!!) realized I need those to be internal issues not just external :)

    1. Yay, Jemi! That's good to hear! Keep it up.

  5. Another great author post. Good luck to Amy with her book.

  6. Nice. I think one of the best things you can do when plotting is ask questions. I'm especially fond of "What if?"

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

  7. 'Never stop learning if you want to become a writer.' Great advice, Amy. I wish you well.

  8. I had trouble when I was a pantser, too. Plotting works so much better for me!

  9. When I was writing romance, I attended the "Goal Motivation Conflict" workshop led by Debra Dixon. It was SO helpful to me! I'm not a plotter but you definitely have to think those things through at some point.

    1. Debra Dixon's book is never far from my side.

  10. Amy- You do have lots of great advice for writers. :) I really enjoyed this post and it was fun to learn how you went from a pantser to a plotter. I am more of a plotter for sure. :)

    Best of luck!

  11. Those are great questions to ask. Yes, we would have really short books if we didn't ask that. Also, there wouldn't be much of a story.

  12. ‘Just never stop learning if you want to become a writer’ is probably the best piece of advice I’ve read today. Interesting interview, thank you.

  13. I think the best would be a combination of both: knowing your theories about plotting and then using that information unconsciously while you're going with the flow.

  14. congrats Kelly! Amy gave some great advice. I get ideas from songs and images too - but definitely have to back those ideas up and give them hurdles! congrats on the latest release!