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Aaron Sorkin – How To Write

Aaron Sorkin

“The worst crime you can commit is telling the audience something they already know.” Aaron Sorkin

He also comments in the video below:

“You should be evangelical about Aristotle’s Poetics. If there is something wrong with your script, that is because you broke one of those rules.”

And he thinks, “It’s not just that dialogue sounds like music to me. It actually is music.”

Aaron Sorkin is a screenwriter, playwright and producer. His writing credits include the Broadway plays A Few Good Men and The Farnsworth Invention; the television series Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Newsroom.

His films include The American President, Malice, A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs.

Social Network director David Fincher says, “Part of what makes Sorkin is not just the tonnage of words but the fact that you’re watching a person navigate the jungle of their self-doubt, the jungle of their thought process.”

Sorkin comments about crafting his work:

“I’m not writing something that’s meant to be read; I’m writing something that’s meant to be performed,” he says. “Just having written a screenplay is no more satisfying to me than if a songwriter handed out pieces of sheet music.”

But, he admits, “Writing never comes easy. The difference between Page 2 and Page Nothing is the difference between life and death.”

From Inside Aaron Sorkin’s Writing Process 1/8/2011 by Christy Grosz, The Hollywood Reporter.

In another interview, he makes the intriguing declaration “The properties of people and the properties of character have almost nothing to do with each other.

“They really don’t. I know it seems like they do, because we look alike, but people don’t speak in dialogue. Their lives don’t unfold in a series of scenes that form a narrative arc.

“The rules of drama are very much separate from the properties of life. I think that’s especially true of Shakespeare.”

From Writing Tips From ‘Steve Jobs’ Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, October 16th, 2015 by Jack Giroux, slashfilm.

This video promo for his MasterClass screenwriting course has some more ideas of his on writing.

The course page summarizes:

“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.”

A testimonial from a class student, Mamta Valderrama, an author and entrepreneur:

“Aaron is incredibly bright and speaks in real terms/actionable steps for me as a screenwriter…not in the abstract. I enjoyed the real and actionable instruction.”

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MasterClass teachers

MasterClass programs currently available online include Dustin Hoffman (acting), James Patterson (writing), Usher (performance), Christina Aguilera (singing), Werner Herzog (filmmaking), Aaron Sorkin (screenwriting) and Kevin Spacey (acting).


Aaron Sorkin – How To Write

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2016). Aaron Sorkin – How To Write. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Aug 2016
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