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Aaron Sorkin on Writing

I’m new to the novel-writing game, but I did spend a decade working on the craft of screenwriting and I’ve learned a lot that carries over from one world to the other.  Was perusing my old “Screenwriting Tips” folder and came across some great insights and advice I’ve collected over the years, some of which I’ll share here.

Today, I’ve got some comments by Aaron Sorkin about drama, character and story:

I say this and this sounds like a vast over-simplification, but it’s the truth. Drama is somebody wants something and something is standing in their way of getting it. If you don’t have that, then don’t start writing yet. If you don’t have that you don’t have a story, all you have are feelings. The quality is how much do they want it, what it is that they want, how big and insurmountable the obstacle is, and how much we like the person who wants it. That’s going to spell how good the [script] is.


It’s intention and obstacle. The structure is how you’re going to deal with that intention and obstacle. Everything comes from that. What does the character want? What’s stopping them from getting it? 


(Julie’s note: I think it’s less important that the audience/reader “likes” the character than roots for him.  But maybe that’s why Sorkin is Sorkin and I am not.)