Outline or Not Outline … Join the Debate

To Outline Or Not Outline?

Among authors, there is a heated debate regarding whether to outline or not outline your book. There have been countless debates about using outlines. It’s a very personal matter among writers. The determining factor is the method that increases your productivity the most.

The outcome of the debate is unsettled. Traditionally, non-fiction writers use an outline to draft their books. They view outlines as blueprints to move them step-by-step to the finished product. Having an outline makes it easy to define the problem and envision the solutions you’ll want to present in a non-fiction book.

On the other hand, fiction books are very imaginative. They might include unlimited plots, twists and storylines. They develop their own characters and scenarios.

A large number of fiction writers believe an outline is a mental straight jacket. They believe it restricts the flow of creativity and blocks new ideas. For these writers, and outline leads to a rigid expression of their content rather than an organic flow (which is sometimes interpreted as artistic). They prefer to let narrative forces guide them rather than be led by an outline.


The no-outline diehards believe that writing should be the art of creating. They believe you get to what needs to happen as you write. This far exceeds the task of completing a pre-set outline for the day. No outline means fresh, organic prose.

Many of them have no habits or rituals that prompt a writing session. Some have no scheduled times to write or any favourite writing places. Some even reject the tools designed to make the writing task easier. They live in their own writing world and make up any rules they need as they write.

The truth is, there are no cookie-cutter writers. Therefore, there are no right or wrong decisions about using or not using an outline. There is the only selection. Match a method (outline or no outline) with your writing skills and your personality to determine a preference. This offers the best expression of the real you through your writing.

What’s your opinion? I’d love to know what you think of this issue. If I get enough responses, I’ll post an updated post in the near future.

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