Film & TV

Closing Thoughts

Aaron Sorkin

Lesson time 14:46 min

In the final lesson, Aaron offers his parting wisdom and leaves you with one more assignment that will last the rest of your life.

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Aaron Sorkin
Teaches Screenwriting
Aaron Sorkin teaches you the craft of film and television screenwriting in 35 exclusive video lessons.
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Preview

So the good news is that you, none of you, none of the five of you are fooling yourselves. You are all professional writers. You're very good. Even better news is, is that as a writer you get, it's the opposite of being an athlete, you get better as you get older. Not just because you've lived more, but it's practice. You've done it a lot, and you've found your voice. You've found your stride. And you know what works for you and what doesn't. Now, you have to get used to tuning out other voices. OK, as a writer, whether you're writing a 30-minute TV show, a 60-minute TV show, or a screenplay, in this day and age, and I mean because of social media, you're going to hear from a lot of people. And what you don't want to do is to try to write in order to change someone's mind. OK? Let's say this show is on the air, or your show is on the air, and three or four episodes in. And you're reading a critic, whether it's the New York Times or Dumbo at dumbo.com, has a problem with your script. There is a very human instinct to write the next episode trying to address that person's concerns. It's going to be a fool's errand. First of all, it is impossible to try to-- it's impossible to make everybody happy who is watching your thing. Second of all, Dumbo at dumbo.com doesn't know what they're talking about, OK? That's why they write a blog and you write what you write. You've got to have Corey-level of confidence in yourself. Now, that's not to say that you should tune our voices of people you trust. Hopefully, you're working with a director who's a real partner, or a producer who's a real partner. Hopefully, you have friends in your life. You just need one, two, three who you can show the pages to and they'll be encouraging and honest. When you're doing that, it's helpful if you ask them questions, rather than just giving pages and saying, well, what did you think? OK. Ask questions like, did you get it? Did you understand this and this and this? Did you feel anything when this happened? And then the final piece of wisdom I want to impart to you. I know that you guys are living in a tricky area that exists between-- listen. I'm Basically, you guys want to be professional writers, right? You want to pay your bills writing. That is your goal right now. I caught a lucky break. I never had to write anything for someone else. I never had to be a staff writer on a television show I didn't really like. But I could do the work and get a paycheck. And I was a professional writer. My first play was A Few Good Men. Like I said, it was a fluke. It opened on Broadway. I was brought out to Los Angeles to turn it into a movie. That was a hit, and from then on I just got paid to write what I wanted to write. Careers generally don't happen like that. So I don't blame you for if you have-- for tryi...


Your script starts here.

Aaron Sorkin wrote his first movie on cocktail napkins. Those napkins turned into A Few Good Men, starring Jack Nicholson. Now, the Academy Award-winning writer of The West Wing and The Social Network is teaching screenwriting. In this class, you’ll learn his rules of storytelling, dialogue, character development, and what makes a script actually sell. By the end, you’ll write screenplays that capture your audience’s attention.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learned to use my own voice, and to push through dry times and to research like crazy for inspiration and information.

It's helped me focus in on some of the most important aspects of telling a story including intention & obstacle, as well as tactics. While watching the class, I actually rewrote a tv pilot I'm working on based on what I was learning -- and I vastly improved that script thanks to this class.

I have watched other class before Aaron's, he gives solid advise and help rather than others, thank you so much Aaron Sorkin

Great class! Highly recommend. Learned important key practical strategies to improve my writing. See Closing Thoughts for full review.


Comments

A fellow student

I just want to say a huge thank you to both MasterClass and Mr. Sorkin for this amazing class. I was seriously blown away by the honesty and detail in which Mr. Sorkin explains the outs and ins of screenwriting and its business. My area is fiction writing (although you never know what the future holds), but I wanted to complete this class to learn more about the techniques used when writing films and TV series. I got much more than I expected and am grateful beyond words, really. Except for the incredible advice, I was astounded by how humble and unpretentious Mr. Sorkin is when sharing his thoughts. I will definitely, as the master urges us in this final lesson, take chances and do my thing going forward. And I’ll think a lot about intention, obstacle and the music of dialog. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Jeff D.

Aaron Sorkin, you are an amazing writer, of course, an a wonderful teacher. Thanks for all of the insight and honesty. As a university professor, I'm always looking for anything that can inspire my students...to get that "light" to turn on in their head. (A magical moment and what I love about teaching) You have offered up so many of those inspirational bits of knowledge that really does inspire my students. Thanks for that!

Master B.

Aaron Sorkin Thank U 4 Your Informative NRG, Wisdom and Know-How(Hands On) Guidance of "The Craft"! I'll Continue Studying William Goldman's work and May He Rest N Power. Continued Success to U and Your Impressive Panel of Talented Writers!

Julian D.

This has been a most enjoyable and, to some extent, informative class, the first I've done with MC and I understand from comments I've seen elsewhere that it's one of the best so I hope the others I join through All-Access will live up to his reputation! I've huge respect for Aaron as an Oscar-winning writer but unfortunately I don't have much experience of his work, apart from A Few Good Men which I watched many years ago. The most impressive parts of the class for me were the video presentations with Aaron talking straight into the camera, as if addressing me personally (how I wished sometimes I could have responded!) The Writers' Room lessons were the least interesting, probably because I wasn't familiar with The West Wing) and I didn't think the youngsters who participated came up with any good ideas and their poor scripts so why he said they'd all make professional writers is, quite hotestly, beyond me. Nevertheless, throughout the class there were some very valuable nuggets of advice for screenwriters and I especially appreciated Aaron's honest and integrity, for example his revalations about how he too suffers from writer's block and in his final comments about his lucky break with A Few Good Men. There was another poignant comment that resonated with me when he said something to the effect of what's in your head about a story doesn't always actually goes down your arm to the keyboard and it never quite appears as you intended - pure gold, and no doubt most if not all of us had that frustrating experience at times! There's some great practical advice here, for example about intention and obstacles, but not a huge amount of nuts-and-bolts that you can find in screenwriting books such as those (which I've read) by Robert McKee, Michael Hauge, Linda Segar, Linda Aronson, John Yorke (UK) and John Truby whose Anatomy Of Story which eschews the three-act structure for films and focuses on a character's psycological and moral need and change through adversity is particularly recommended (Aaron doesn't mention character arc disappointingly) to name but a few. Having said all that, the last 15 or so minutes of this final lesson are pure gold!

Usha D.

like Aaron says write not for the sake of writing but for the sake of performance. That's what is my take away from this mentor.

Anna L.

Thanks Aaron, from the bottom of my heart. You're a Great master because you said often that you don't know everything. I have just a question about copyright. How can I make sure that nobody will take my story when I start mailing to producers???

Badiger Devendra S.

thank you so much... it helped me to kwon nuts and bolts of screen writing... being B.Sc Visual Communication graduate i learned lot then i did 3years degree in my college

Janelle F.

This is the best masterclass I have watched. Clear, useful, fun, motivational. It felt like I was getting a gift directly from Aaron each time I watched a chapter. I pretty much binge watched the entire thing.

A fellow student

Enjoyable and informative masterclass from a true master of the craft. Although I thought the Writers room sections were the least successful parts in terms of script constructive criticism or showing the process of planning out that first episode of a show, I guess it did replicate what a writer's room might be like on a show, i.e. 95% batting around ideas with slow progress. Aaron was a great masterclass instructor - interesting, engaging, knowledgeable and I could listen to his anecdotes all day. He did an excellent job of backing up his opinions and recommendations with true stories of the reasons why something worked or didn't work for him or another writer. I learned a few new things, and it was encouraging to hear from such a successful writer some of the things that were covered in my screenwriting masters. I also loved the fact that despite his huge success and obvious genius, as a writer he seems incredibly modest and down to earth, plagued by the same fears and self doubt as many of the viewers, which was actually one of the biggest takeaways for me: that its ok to feel like that - its all part of the process and can be overcome.

Naomi

Best Masterclass so far for me. The 'not writing' thing...it sucks. I understand this and Aaron is the first writer who has made me feel like I'm not alone. I am off to read Adventures In The Screen Trade. Thanks for the awesome classes, Aaron!