The Art of Screenwriting: Aaron Sorkin
Whenever someone finds themselves interested in the world of screenwriting, diving into the head of the masterminds behind the field is typically the best way to start. Although learning the fundamentals of screenwriting is a must for beginners, there are only so many scriptwriters that become iconic in the field.
Aaron Sorkin is a monumental writer who is regarded as one of the best writers in general ever to exist. Sorkin is primarily known for being a writer for the television series The West Wing, but other writing accolades include A Few Good Men, Molly’s Game, The Social Network, and much more.
When discussing the art of screenwriting, every professional in the realm has their set of unique abilities within it. This is what makes screenwriting such a fascinating way to tell a story since every icon involved in the matter has a different take.
Nonetheless, let’s discuss the art of screenwriting with Sorkin in mind. We’ll discuss Sorkin’s writing style, goals with writing, and what differentiates him from the rest of the crowd. If you’re interested in helping your screenwriting abilities or want to know more about the field, continue reading below!
Photo credit: Den of Geek
Create a Voice
Creating a voice is a broad term, but it can mean many things specifically tied to screenwriting. When you look at a screenwriter like Sorkin, he has his unique voice throughout every facet of how he writes.
First and foremost, you can differentiate a Sorkin script from any other screenwriter. Developing a writing style is incredibly difficult to do, and not many people can do it. The reason this is important is that it sets you apart from other writers. Besides just screenwriting, writers like Stephen King have their own style that isn't like anyone else.
Outside of creating a specific style of writing a script, a voice should be done for every character and action throughout it. A good rule of thumb for this is that you should be able to tell who every character is just by reading their lines.
Although all screenwriters try to do this particular notion, Sorkin is especially good at it. In fact, most will point to Sorkin as being the best at differentiating characters. These two tasks are arguably the most challenging aspect of becoming a great screenwriter like Sorkin. Sorkin has perfected the too so well that it's mostly why he's as known as a writer.
Use Life for Inspiration
Outside of creating a unique voice for every facet of a script, Sorkin is well-known for taking aspects of his life and putting them in his scripts. Whether they're exact replications of something he experienced, or purely for inspiration, Sorkin is excellent in that regard.
Generally speaking, a lot of writers try to separate their life experiences with their scripts. Although this seems like a good idea, writers like Sorkin try to take everything they see in life and use it as a benefit for their script.
One might think, why would Sorkin use life experiences to help him write The Social Network? Indeed, The Social Network isn’t related to Sorkin at all, but it’s possible that one scene or even one line of dialogue from that script was from an experience Sorkin had in real life.
Basically, just because the story you're telling has nothing to do with your real-life doesn't mean you can't find interesting points in your life to utilize for your script. Sorkin is an excellent example of doing this, like many other fantastic screenwriters.
Dialogue Heavy (Overlapping, Misunderstanding, and Opposite Thoughts)
Whenever someone brings up Sorkin, they typically discuss his use of dialogue. Unlike many other prominent writers who rely on visuals to tell a story, Sorkin feels the opposite. If you look at any Sorkin script, characters talk a lot, more than most scripts have.
On top of the characters talking a lot in a Sorkin script, Sorkin uses a few ways to keep the dialogue-heavy scripts entertaining with every conversation. First, Sorkin loves to have characters talk over each other. This is done purposely to create a sense of realism and conflict with every conversation. People talk over each other all the time in reality, why not use it in a script?
Other than overlapping, Sorkin loves to have misunderstandings and opposite thoughts in most conversations. A simple example of this would be a couple on a date and them arguing over their future while the waiter brings them the wrong food by mistake. Using examples as this creates a more profound meaning with every character and is another example of the art of screenwriting behind Aaron Sorkin.
● The West Wing (1999-2006)
● A Few Good Men (1992)
● The Social Network (2010)
● Moneyball (2011)