A few weeks ago, I learned that I'd be diving back into more re-writes on my post-Apocalyptic spec after working for a couple months on a draft that we had turned into the Production Company we're working with. Of course, I was disappointed that my time and effort went without the reward of a sale - or at least a big move forward - and that was no surprise to my manager, producer, and the exec at the production company. In order to ward off any other undesired pages, we all agreed that I wouldn't write another page until I produced an outline that we were all in agreement on.
Last Thursday, I sent that outline off to my manager for his approval after working on it with my producer for some time. I am pretty happy with how it turned out, in no small part because I think it's much closer to what the production company executive wanted. Still, I have no idea whether this will be the final outline that they greenlight for me to write a script off of or not. In fact, I would put money on having to make at least some small changes (I would do this for no other reason than that I've learned to be at best cautiously optimistic about everything; were I not, I'd have gone completely mad by now).
I know that writers sometimes debate the merits of outlining. When I was still in school - and thought that a sale would instantly follow the completion of a script - I tried to convince myself and my professors that I didn't outline, because I didn't need to. It wasn't my "process." I liked to find out where the story went and allow it to take me along for the ride. As I got older, I realized that's a bit crap. Sure, I don't always outline. However, I do not universally brush off the merits of it. Outlining can be a great process and (had I shared the outline with the production company back in December) a time-saving one. at least with this go-around, I know that the structure will be agreed upon before I set out to put one more word down on paper, and then I can just focus on producing pages as quickly as possible.
One of the things that has become increasingly jaw-dropping to me is how different the script has become in the two and a half years of its existence. I'd always heard stories about how drastically a project can change during development (and had joked accordingly that some studio head would one day try to make my post-Apocalyptic thriller a romantic comedy), but this is the first time I've experienced that for myself. Of course, this is the first time I've actually gotten some major interest in a project. Without a doubt, this is at least the fourth major incarnation of the draft (by that, I mean different characters, plot, and story structure). I've been happy - in varying degrees - with each version, and I enjoy this one just as well. Still, it's undeniable that this script would not make the same movie as my first draft (or second, or third). The project has evolved, not always for the best. I just really want to cement the draft that we shop around and try to make some bigger waves with it soon.