Arts & Entertainment, Writing

The West Wing Writers' Room: Part 2

Aaron Sorkin

Lesson time 08:10 min

Aaron discusses what is needed in the teaser of the show and how to reverse engineer a plot.

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Topics include: Virtual writers' room


I would love for the Zoey's missing story-- for that cloak and dagger thing. I would love for that to be over at the end of this episode. But I don't think I can, because-- maybe I can, I don't know. Because what I really like, to me, like where the good stuff is, is Bartlet, the powerless king in his residence, basically under guard. I mean, we're in Shakespearean territory now. And his loyal staff having to deal with not being able to take his instructions. And is somebody, or more than one somebody, going to betray President John Goodman? And probably break the law in the process. I wouldn't mind if that went on for a couple of episodes. Maybe it doesn't have to. Maybe we can wrap it all up in this one. So what we need to do is reverse engineer what happened to Zoey-- figure out how we figure it out, how they're caught. I'm assuming that we want Zoey to live. She doesn't have to-- I'm assuming she lived in seasons five, six, and seven. But we can now do whatever we want. Here's why I'm assuming Zoey lives. I think it would be a pretty bad idea for her to die, because everything after that-- we're never going to have the Bartlet that we love back again. Right? He's never going to make another joke again, he's never going to care about pardoning turkeys again. We can't ask him to do that once he's lost a kid. So we're going to reverse engineer Zoey. We're going to get as much as we can out of Bartlet being a king in exile. I feel like we have to kind of nod at Toby being a father. It really empowered him at the end of season four. I'd kind of like to stay away from a baby in jeopardy-- you know, one of them is sick, or something, and do something else. We've got to deal with the deadline for Sharif, and we've got to start a couple of brand new stories going. We can't just clean up from the cliffhanger at the end of four. So like I said, the agonizing part is the thinking. And the thinking generally doesn't happen in this room. People can start to bat things around, but then usually, everyone retreats to their own offices and thinks for a while, sleeps on it, comes back in with an idea. We know we need some raw research on the 25th Amendment. And I may have gotten it right that first time, but I'd love to find out. We want to create some things that John Goodman can do that Bartlet strongly disagrees with, whether it's the way the Zoey situation is being solved. And again, I want it to feel real. The rest of the world-- well, the rest of the world would be captivated by this, and the rest of the world would be scared to death. I was going to say, the rest of the world is still going on, there's still a stock market, and stuff. But that thing that John Goodman is doing wrong can either be something having to do with Zoey, or it can be something having to do with anything that the president handles. And...

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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