Aaron Sorkin is an amazing writer. He gives pretty amazing advice, too.
Aaron Sorkin is probably having quite a good week. Last night his reunion episode of The West Wing aired on HBO Max, and today his new film on Netflix, The Trial of the Chicago 7, is getting rave reviews.
It's hard to remember a time when he wasn't considered one of the best living writers of film and television. He's been at the top of the game since the early 1990s and only seems to get more relevant as he also dabbles in directing.
There's a lot to learn from Sorkin if we pay attention...and if I can direct yours to this video from WIRED in which he takes to Twitter to answer a ton of your burning screenwriting questions.
Aaron Sorkin Answers Your Burning Screenwriting Questions
I want to jump right in to go over a few general points Sorkin makes within this video. It's hilarious to me that this thing begins with a cold open. Seeing Sorkin talk about apps and story planning techniques made me chuckle.
While he does not make a suggestion here, I can tell you that no piece of technology is better than blank note cards or an empty Word doc. Trust me, writers, you can do everything you want with a pen and paper.
I found the most information to glean here is inside Sorkin's answer on second drafts.
For him, a second draft is when you finally know what the screenplay is about. Since you probably wrote that first draft without this direction, his advice is to go back to the beginning and type it all out again.
If there's a problem in the third act, it means you probably have not set it up in the first act.
Don't edit your document, write a new one. This way you can cut out the fat, rework scenes, and give us a character with intention.
And speaking of intention, it's the key to all dramatic writing!
When creating a piece of drama, you want to write about a character who intends to do something, and then figure out what stands in their way.
Overcoming the obstacle is what's going to create the character and what will also flesh out the rest of your story. You'll need to add more and more obstacles to see where they are coming from and what they could be up against.
Show us what this person wants, and we'll want to be along for the ride.
What are some of the best points you took away from this Sorkin chat? Let us know in the comments.
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