I worked for eight months on an outline. I filled many little Rhodia notebooks with notes and ideas, lines of dialogue, potential outcomes, etc. This is outlining to me. It’s not at all a technical process. No graphs or charts.
I think that many screenwriters fear that outlining will strip them of their creativity. To me, outlining is the most creative part. It’s where every crazy idea is given its day in court. Finally, I wrote a first 30 pages that I thought was really good but I was incapable of writing a 31st page. In spite of all my notes, I just didn’t know what happened next. There were so many possibilities and I’d considered them all. I banged my head against the wall for many weeks. I guess I had writer’s block. Somewhere in that time I quit smoking too (a ghastly two pack a day habit), which can’t have helped.
One day I wrote my umpteenth potential next scene and I made something of a breakthrough. It felt like the characters were speaking without my help. I was just recording the conversation. The rest of the script flowed very quickly from there.
I wrote non-stop for the next seven days and then it was finished, but I had taken notes and prepared for eight months before that. I don’t want to say that it only took seven days. It took eight months and seven days.