I’m currently writing my next novel and the class is really giving me an extra push to get it finished.
You know how when you’re coming to the end of a work (one you’ve spent months with), you start dragging your feet?
Well having Sorkin’s advice has helped me speed up. It’s like having a mentor sit down and talk to you about the craft of writing.
The last time I had a mentor was in Oxford. I was struggling to stay afloat in my final year and so I had coffee once week with someone who had already been through it. Those weekly sessions really boosted my morale and productivity and also gave me tons of ideas.
It’s the same with Sorkin’s masterclass.
Some might say (me included before I enrolled in the class) that you could take the cost of the class and buy a ton of writing manuals for the same price.
But that’s not what I want.
I’ve already read a ton of writing manuals. Several times over. So, yes, I have already encountered much of what Sorkin says in the masterclass.
But the human element is extremely important. I already do enough reading (what writer doesn’t?) so it is extremely refreshing just to have someone talk to you about the craft. And not just anyone. It’s Aaron freaking Sorkin after all.
So far, the masterclass has been a riveting schooling in the following things:
- Intention and obstacle: How to show it, amplify it, and when to implement it.
- Story ideas: Conflict and the nature of features vs. TV vs. plays.
- Developing characters: How to use intention, obstacle, and tactics, how not to write characters, the nature of character, how to identify with your anti-heroes, the actor’s role in characterisation.
- Research: Two types of research, how to interview people, what not to research, how to research dialogue, discovering the “more important truth” in non-fiction.
- The audience: the nature of the audience, how to keep them hooked, how to avoid confusion.
- Rules of story: The rules of drama and being a diagnostician.
- Film story arc: Story vs drama, setting up a 3-act drama, stakes, exposition, inciting action, pages numbers as road signs, the first and last 15 pages.
As you can see, there is a TON of great stuff there and we’re not even halfway through the course.
Another thing I want to say about the masterclass vs traditional books is that I prefer the masterclass style.
Books can result in information overload and paralysis by analysis. The result? Your craft doesn’t actually improve.
But the Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting Masterclass has everything you would find in one of the best writing manuals and condenses it so that it is super easy to understand. Then you take action.
Every writer already knows about the 3-act drama but the way Sorkin describes it is beautifully simple. He does the same with stakes, exposition, inciting action, everything.
Everything is so expertly compressed, signalling a craftsman that has spent years honing the art of writing.
In addition to the lessons above, Sorkin also makes some great recommendations for other resources. We also analyse different scenes. Resources and analyses in the first two weeks included:
- Aristotle’s Poetics – this is Sorkin’s storytelling bible.
- Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid – analysing intention and obstacle.
- The American President – idea case study.
- A Few Good Men.
- The Social Network.
- The West Wing – how Toby and Leo use “tactics”.
- Steve Jobs – how to research dialogue.
Am I getting my money’s worth out of the masterclass?
Should you buy the masterclass?
If you’ve got $90 to invest in your craft, definitely.
If you can’t spare that cash, obviously don’t buy the course yet. Instead, you can study Aristotle’s Poetics for free and then study your favourite movies and TV shows and do lots of you own writing. When you have the cash, go ahead and invest in the masterclass and reap the rewards.
I actually bought the masterclass because I kicked my coffee addiction. That’s a great way to free up some cash fast.
So those are my thoughts on the Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting Masterclass for week 2. Time to get cracking on the third week. I’ve just glimpsed the topic of the first lesson and I’m very excited.
More updates coming soon!
Keep writing, my friends.