Chapter 8 of 35 from Aaron Sorkin

The Audience

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Aaron knows that the audience isn't just watching his work. They're participating in it, too. Learn how to write stories that will keep them engaged and entertained.

Topics include: Avoiding confusion with the audience • Letting the audience participate

Aaron knows that the audience isn't just watching his work. They're participating in it, too. Learn how to write stories that will keep them engaged and entertained.

Topics include: Avoiding confusion with the audience • Letting the audience participate

Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting

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

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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. You’ll learn his rules of storytelling, dialogue, character development, and what makes a script actually sell. By the end, you'll write unforgettable screenplays.

Watch, listen, and learn as Aaron teaches the essentials of writing for television and film.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Aaron will also critique select student work.

Reviews

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

During this class I've been encouraged, bolstered in my determination to write fully what I believe is an engaging, interesting story, and I've actually moved away from Los Angeles to do this. And it's happening and you will hear from me! This class has reinforced everything I'm doing right now. So thank you!

Aaron is so amazing and inspirational. I finished all of the lessons in one weekend, I couldn't stop watching them! I will be going back through them slowly, as he provides such a passion to writing.

I feel like looking up what 8th grade girls say instead of OMG because I'm really excited to learn about this craft from this killer legend.

Learning the craft of screenwriting from one of the best, is its own reward. But in addition to that, when that writer is Aaron Sorkin, a professional who you respect and whose work you admire, tells me to keep doing what I'm doing, it reinforces the fact that I'm on the right track.

Comments

Sherry L.

The PDF will not download. I get this instead: AccessDeniedRequest has expired36002019-02-16T18:32:26Z2019-02-16T22:44:15Z0E3AF04F6DBFC1E6rJuWm9WN7vcQWXxWuTkYdaAvDKnCOg5gNc81t+A5Qb9br/U8V8XD26YgcAqD74dbN5yYQ3+tJuk=

A fellow student

I never truly grasped how important it is to recognize that your audience isn't dumb until I realized that all of my more recent favorite movies treated me like an adult. Most notedly, Inception doesn't hold anything back. It does a pretty good job of explaining what's going on, or at least, enough to get a general premise. And yet, I don't feel as though it was a bunch of technobabble that distracted from its' enjoyable and smart plot.

Nikki V.

It's interesting to see how these fundamentals are the same as in writing novels. And, I totally get what Sorkin means about when he talks about the pebble in his shoe. I recently started watching Ray Donovan, and while there is a lot I like about the show, his wife and childrens' reaction to Mitch has lodged in my shoe like a full-sized stone. They wouldn't be so accepting of a man they have never known. Period. Hence, every scene where they're loving up their grandfather rings false and pulls me from the story.

George C.

I had an experience with "Vice" which is nominated for Best Picture that illustrates for me his point about avoiding scenes that lose the audience because they know it would not happen. I lost trust in the authenticity of Vice when they depicted a lineman who fell from the pole and broke his leg. The supervisor and all the other workers just stood over him showing no concern while the supervisor said give him 10 bucks and get another man in here (or something like that). I immediately got that this was going to be an overly cynical or unfair depiction because that was not a realistic depiction of workmen around a serious injury to a fellow worker, especially linemen, and so I was lost early in that movie. Also Sorkin says the audience is intelligent. Well, His audience is intelligent because he has selected his audience by writing intelligent scripts. So we create our audience from what we offer them.

Judith M.

I had only thought of Pontillism's use in painting and weaving before, thank you for suggesting the sideways usage in dialogue. Just as anyone without binocular vision has problems seeing the mixed colour of the optical illusion, those who know too much about a specific subject may also have their immersion in your screenplay broken. But it is in its dialogue application that it really shines. Give the audience the information indirectly, it's all there, they just have to listen to hear the connections that form the whole colour of the story. No rabbits out of the hat, the clues are all in plain hearing, and appreciation of the linkage between talk and action. In essence dialogue is the two colours, that create the immersion illusion.

Greg W.

Great insight about the importance of knowing and understand your audience.

Eileen

Im inspired and thrilled to write a screenplay as I watch and listen to Aaron Sorkin. I am learning things I would never know about writing a screenplay. However, After reviewing the format one must follow in order to submit a screenplay I fear my story will never come to fruition and even if it did how does one even get their script read by anyone who matters. I would also like to know how to write a movie or story treatment which is basically an abbreviated version or synopsis of a movie.

Les L.

All key points on keeping the audience engaged, insightful and easy to understand.

A fellow student

I'm really enjoying the lectures so far, but there's always one point Aaron Sorkin seems to not really indulge himself into. In this lecture, it's the one about the "failed" joke that happens in "A few good men". When you listen back to Aaron saying the joke and seeing the joke in action there is one major difference in what makes it funny or not. Timing. And this is, of course, not down to Aaron's job, since he is a screenwriter and I wouldn't throw shade at him, because he did write something that did work. But saying that something can work on-stage and can't on-screen is not true. That already is down to editing, direction at that point. This joke can be made funny and it wouldn't take long to look for the correct way to cut it in.

Momotimi P.

Nice class... But I'm thinking to myself.. "how does one know where to draw the line between creating suspense and not confusing the audience?"

Transcript

Here's something important to remember, and you kind of learn about it as you go. The audience is a component in the event. And here's what I mean by that. And I'm going to use a famous painting as an example. The George Surat painting that hangs in the Chicago Art Museum. I'm going to mess up the title. I think it's A Sunday on the Island of Le Grande Jatte. But it's a famous painting. Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical about it, Sunday in the Park with George. George Surat was a pointillist, which meant he didn't paint like that in brushstrokes. He painted like that, with the tip of the brush with dots. But most often he painted with two brushes in his hand, going red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, very, very close together. Because he felt that if the viewer stood back from the painting, which is how you have to see the painting. There's a velvet rope in the museum. And you're standing about 10 feet back from it. He felt that the viewer, in their mind, will mix that red and blue into a violet much more vibrant than he can mix on his palate by mixing red and blue there, so that the viewer becomes a very important part of this painting. The painting is actually different when no one is looking at it than it is when someone is looking at it. You want, as much as you can, for the audience to be a part of what's going on. The more the audience can be putting things together in their head, that's something they like. You want to treat them like they're smart. And they are. And they don't want to just sit back and kind of observe. They want to put things together themselves. And by the way, if you can get them doing that, and they don't see a reversal coming, if you're in the audience it's a very satisfying feeling, that ah, gah, I didn't see that. And I'm smart. And I've been paying attention. And I didn't see that. If you're able to-- say you're writing a Sherlock Holmes story. And you're able to give the audience all of the clues that Sherlock Holmes has, the exact same information that Sherlock Holmes has, but he figured this thing out, and you weren't able to, that's a very satisfying experience. I saw a made for TV movie recently, which was very good. But there was a scene in which a character has to testify in front of Congress. So there's the walking up the steps of the Capitol moment, you know, getting out of the car, walking up the steps of the Capitol with his lawyer. And there's press everywhere shouting questions. And as they're walking up the steps, the lawyer is quickly filling the client in. OK, so they're going to ask you this. Then they're going to do that. And then you're going to get to do this and do that. And that scene, I promise you, ran a little bit false to anyone who was watching the show. And you wouldn't even know why, but it's just ...