Wright’s Writing Corner–The Great Debate

Should you use an outline? Or not? And why so much acrimony about the debate? Mrs. Wright peers into the problem and maelstrom of surrounding controversy, but I did not ask her whether she outlined this article or wrote it from the seat of her skirts.


There are not two types of writers. There are four.

1) Structured, Creative Writers – people whose muses speak to them in the initial organizational stage.

2) Unstructured Creative Writers – people whose muses only dictate when they do not get in the way. These people must write as the Muse instructs and add structure later.

3) Structured Uncreative Writers – people who use structure to replace creativity. They do not listen to their Muse.

4) Pantsers—people who really do write by the seat of their pants, without discipline or, often, plot.

Both 1 and 2 produce good books. The existence of 3, however, makes 1 look bad, and 4 makes 2 look bad. The authors who write according to an outline pride themselves on not being plotless and undisciplined. The authors who write by listening to the Muse look down on outliners because they believe they are all using structure to replace creativity.