Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Rewrites: Notes

Aaron Sorkin

Lesson time 16:34 min

Rewrites aren't a sign of a bad script; they're a sign of a good writer. Hear how Aaron reworks and strengthens his screenplays with help from trusted advisors.

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

Topics include: Collecting the right script editors • How to get through notes


As a writer, you're going to develop, over a course of time, a relationship with someone-- hopefully two, three, four people-- who you really like talking about your work with. They're speaking in a vocabulary you understand. You trust their taste. It takes a while to collect them. I would say that for me, the big people for me obviously, Bill Goldman, who you've heard me mention. But then came along a guy with a funny name-- Tommy Schlamme, OK? He's Thomas Schlamme professionally, but everybody knows him as Tommy. Why he doesn't call himself Tom-- he's a big, 6 foot 5 inch Texan, and for my money, the best director in television. He and I did Sports Night together. He was the other executive producer and principal director of Sports Night-- same thing on The West Wing, same thing on Studio 60. And with Tommy, I felt I had a great creative collaborator, that we understood each other. We had respect for the other person's job and knew that we couldn't really do the other person's job. We understood and respected the way the other person worked. And I liked talking to him about my material. Another person is Scott Rudin, the producer of The Social Network, Moneyball, Steve Jobs, and I expect a lot of things that I'll do in the future. Scott's one of the best producers of both plays and movies around. And he is, for me, a great script editor. And then one or two civilian friends-- for instance, my assistant Lauren , who's not quite a civilian. She's in show business. But you know, I'll give her pages. And her reactions will range from, I'm faking it, polite-- you know, good job-- to I can tell when she genuinely likes something. But I can also tell, again, if it's comprehensible, if the story landed, or did too much of it stay in my head and not make it onto the paper? So those are the people. [MUSIC PLAYING] You really want to be careful about who you're listening to. Be polite to everybody. You can pretend you're listening to everybody, and be polite and thank them. But you really want to be careful about who you're listening to. If you're lucky, you're talking to someone, whether they're your producer, your director, your friend-- you're talking to someone who's smart, who understands scripts, and who understands the way you write. What you don't want in a script editor-- if you're talking to your friend who's also a screenwriter, you want to make sure that they're not trying to write your script the way they would write it, you know? Boy, there's an awful lot of talking in this thing. And you've got to cut out that talking and put in more action. You're probably not going to find that person right off the bat, much like you're probably not going to marry the first person you went on a date with. But try to find that person. And once you find that person, keep them in your pocket. Don't lose them. ...

About the Instructor

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.

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Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin teaches you the craft of film and television screenwriting.

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