Aaron Sorkin MasterClass Review:
The Best Way to Become a Screenwriter?
Last updated on: June 29, 2023, Written by:
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Screenwriter creates the blueprint of a movie or a television show that guides directors and actors. It’s an intriguing form of writing, especially when you can learn from one of the best – Aaron Sorkin. He’s the screenwriter behind numerous award-winning movies and television series.
Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass teaches everything from developing characters to researching to working with other writers. But with a total runtime of eight hours, you might be unsure if it’s worth your time.
That’s why I wrote this Aaron Sorkin MasterClass review to help you determine. Continue reading to know if this course is worth your time and a MasterClass subscription.
Aaron Sorkin MasterClass Outline
Sorkin’s MasterClass teaches writing dialogue, explains his creative process, shares good writing habits, and gives examples from his scripts. The course also includes screenplays of The Social Network and A Few Good Men with a 52-page downloadable workbook. All these resources come in stunning detail, making this MasterClass an excellent online course.
Aaron Sorkin MasterClass Review In a Nutshell
|🥇 Category of class:
|Writing, Arts & Entertainment
|📈 Suits best for:
|Anyone interested in writing screenplays and filmmaking
|8 hours 1 minute
|⏳ Avg. Lesson Duration
|🛍️ Course Essentials:
|Writing software, such as Final Draft
|💼 Complementary material:
|Screenplays of The Social Network and A Few Good Men, Steve Jobs continuity and spotting list, and class workbook
|📚 No. of Lessons:
|🛒 Payment options:
|Individual / Duo / Family
|10 – 20 $ (billed annually)
|🔄 Refund policy:
|30-day satisfaction guarantee
|🎁 Free trial:
Main Skills You’ll Learn
- Testing ideas for a script;
- Writing scenes and dialogues;
- Developing characters;
- Researching for accurate scripts;
- Rewriting practices;
- Pitching your first script.
Is Aaron Sorkin MasterClass For Me?
Any writer interested in screenwriting or pursuing it as a career will find Aaron Sorkin MasterClass an outstanding course. Not only because Sorkin teaches everything exceptionally well but due to fact you’ll be learning from an Oscar-winning screenwriter. Writers of other genres can also benefit from this MasterClass as he gives plenty of practical advice.
Total score: 9.0
In This Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass
Review, You’ll Learn
Aaron Sorkin MasterClass Teacher Review
Meet Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin is an acclaimed American screenwriter. His breakthrough came with the popular television series, The West Wing in the late 90s. The show went on to win the Emmy Awards five times. Sorkin managed to carry his exceptional storytelling skills to A Few Good Men, The Social Network, and Steve Jobs. He won an Academy Award for The Social Network in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
All these achievements enabled him to make a name for himself in Hollywood. When thinking about a drama movie or TV series, Aaron Sorkin is one of the first screenwriters that come to any filmmaker’s mind.
Aaron Sorkin as a Teacher
Aaron Sorkin starts his MasterClass by saying he is much better on paper than speaking out loud. He ‘apologizes’ in advance if he can’t clearly communicate in the course. Although this was a nice gesture, I never once found the Sorkin class confusing. It was an engaging MasterClass, from writing short stories to carrying a story forward.
Aaron shares everything in a simple way but makes sure to go in-depth when needed. Despite not having any teaching experience, you could tell that he did a lot of preparation for his screenwriting MasterClass.
Since 2015, MasterClass brings 180+ online classes from top-tier instructors in almost any field. It includes pre-recorded video lessons from masters such as Richard Branson, Martin Scorsese, Aaron Sorkin, Gordon Ramsay, and many others.
The video quality equals Hollywood movies, and every MasterClass course is carefully structured. But that’s not all. There are interactive assignments, MasterClass community activities, and an ever-growing video library to enjoy. The sheer amount of content can make it hard to begin. Cursums will help you to choose wisely.
Originality and Novelty of the Content
If you were to search for Aaron Sorkin’s advice on screenwriting, you would find bits and pieces that don’t add up to much. Sorkin’s work is often complicated for viewers and even other screenwriters to analyze and understand his writing process.
The screenwriting MasterClass with Aaron Sorkin is the only way to get one-on-one with him and learn the critical aspects of screenwriting. This MasterClass offers excellent value as Aaron Sorkin touches on everything that involves writing a script, from generating ideas to pitching.
There are also other MasterClasses related to arts & writing. There’s Hanz Zimmer film scoring course, David Lynch filmmaking, Jemisin’s fiction writing MasterClass, and Amanda Gorman’s course for poetic writing. Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass and all these others can make you a successful author. This makes MasterClass one of the few online platforms that house the best online courses for writers.
Content and Structure of the Aaron Sorkin MasterClass
Aaron’s MasterClass is eight hours long. The lessons are 13 to 14 minutes on average, with the workshopping and writers’ room sections taking the longest chunk of the course. All these classes make up 15 of the total 35.
Sorkin’s class is one of the lengthiest writing courses on MasterClass. Although it’s longer than many other MasterClass courses, you can finish it in one day, especially if you follow our fast-track lesson plan. But it’s best to take your time and complete the assignments from the class workbook before you watch it in one go.
You can use the following Aaron’s MasterClass list to guide you through the course. You can watch each section before moving to the next to make notes, complete assignments, and test your skills.
Rules of Screenwriting
1-3 Lessons Summary
Aaron Sorkin MasterClass starts with Aaron saying dramatic writing must have an intention and an obstacle. Aaron addresses that intention can’t be too strong, as an obstacle can’t be too formidable. It is the most critical aspect of writing non-fiction screenplays for the Academy Award-winning screenwriter.
He then goes on to share his process for testing ideas – giving examples of the steps aspiring screenwriters take and decide if their idea will work best in a film or TV series. I enjoyed this first part a lot. It was full of informative bits and pieces that taught the principles of writing a screenplay.
4-11 Lessons Summary
Aaron Sorkin explains his writing process for developing characters by saying they are born out of intention and obstacles. And what the character does to overcome the obstacle is what they become. He gives good examples of intention from the Social Network screenplay and obstacles that create the character development from The West Wing.
Aaron follows the character development process by conducting and incorporating research into writing scenes and dialogues. He adds that good research is the key to a great screenplay.
In lessons eight through ten, Aaron covers ways to keep the audience engaged and entertained while touching on the rules of drama and story arcs. These three lessons work together to test previously mentioned topics to evaluate a screenplay. The 11th lesson is all about Sorkin’s writing habits that help him overcome writer’s block and the tools he utilizes to organize writing.
This section is full of insightful advice on how to write drama. It is one of the most detailed parts that cover the moment you begin writing to keep the flow to finishing the first draft.
12-16 Lessons Summary
Lessons 12 through 16 are group read-through sessions where Aaron Sorkin is surrounded by other scriptwriters and improves their screenplays. In each Group Workshop lesson, Aaron teaches something new, from writing action scenes to incorporating feedback to tricks for scene building.
These lessons are fun to watch and show screenplays from a different writer each time while Aaron gives them feedback. You can skip these Group Workshop lessons or review one or two to complete the course faster. Optionally, follow our fast-track lesson plan below to finish it in the shortest amount of time without missing out on critical teachings.
Writing Scenes and Dialogues
17-24 Lessons Summary
In the 17th and 18th lessons, Aaron shows how he writes great scenes. He details the opening scenes, transitioning from one to another, adding comedy to entertain the audience, and the importance of rewarding the audience’s patience. All the lessons about writing scenes are helpful and describe the approaches a good screenwriter should take.
Aaron Sorkin follows these lessons with examples from The West Wing and Steve Jobs. He thoroughly explains the scene involving the American president and the governor during a Broadway play and examples of intention and obstacles from the Steve Jobs movie.
These lessons prepare the Writing Captivating Dialogue lesson using the scenes played in the previous lessons. Sorkin further explains that it is the least teachable part of writing – having a romanticized view. He considers dialogue as music and again gives some of the lines from The West Wing as an example.
Aaron finishes dialogue writing classes by sharing his rewriting process. He adds that a rewrite is a sign of a good screenwriter and, ultimately, a strong screenplay. The structure of this section did an excellent job of showcasing how scenes and dialogues work together.
25-32 Lessons Summary
With the same group of writers from the Group Workshops, Aaron Sorkin recreates the writer’s room for The West Wing from the start of the fifth season – where he left the show. This chapter of the Aaron Sorkin MasterClass has eight parts. He makes important points as they generate story ideas and write scenes and dialogues in each lesson.
The key takeaways I got from The West Wing Writer’s Room chapter are:
- Writing teasers and acts
- Doing specific research
- Incorporating research to develop the plot
- Using leading characters
- Learning from bad ideas
- Writing screenplays for the audience’s pace
Like the Group Workshop lessons, you can skip this section of Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass. A good way to utilize these chapters from Sorkin’s writing MasterClass is to finish the course and review these chapters as you complete the assignments from the class workbook.
Pitching and Closing
33-35 Lessons Summary
Aaron Sorkin doesn’t just teach screenwriting. He also goes over pitching ideas to executives. In the 33rd lesson, the writers from the Group Workshop pitch to Aaron. He asks the questions writers should expect from Hollywood. In the next lesson, Aaron and the team of writers switch sides, and Sorkin pitches for a new series called Mission to Mars.
He displays the best practices for pitching ideas, making his MasterClass stand out among other writing classes and even screenwriting books.
The MasterClass ends with Aaron giving his final thoughts to encourage writers. He recommends writers take chances and start writing the way they want.
Fast-Track Lesson Plan
Finish Aaron Sorkin MasterClass in 3 hours, 21 minutes, and 3 seconds.
|Intention & Obstacle
|Developing Characters Part: 1
|Developing Characters Part: 2
|Rules of Story
|Film Story Arc
|Group Workshop: Untitled by JJ Braider
|Dealing With Writer’s Block
|Writing Scenes: Part 1
|Writing Scenes: Part 2
|Writing Captivating Dialogue
|Group Workshop: Pitch Session
Engagement and Retention of Aaron Sorkin MasterClass
Aaron Sorkin did well teaching everything while keeping me engaged throughout the course. The same can’t be said for Group Workshops and The West Wing writers’ room chapters. It felt a bit overwhelming – some are nearly 30 minutes long. Although it was good learning from them, I was disconnected sometimes – wondering if I should skip these parts.
Aaron Sorkin’s teachings were easy to understand but dull at times due to the course not having enough visual appeal. MasterClass team changed camera angles here and there and Sorkin’s surroundings, but it wasn’t entertaining enough. The course takes place in a film school-like setting where Aaron Sorkin is the lecturer.
Nonetheless, the course was very informative. A writer can finish the entire MasterClass in a single day and retain everything as long as you make notes. You can then analyze Sorkin’s work and write a script using everything taught.
My Firsthand Experience With Aarons Sorkins MasterClass
What I liked About Aaron Sorkin MasterClass
Informative and Structured Lessons
Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass has structured lessons. The lessons prepare you for what comes next, like how one scene preps another. This makes following the MasterClass easy while allowing for breaks that won’t alter your flow.
Screenplays of The Social Network and A Few Good Men
I was surprised to see the entire screenplay of an Academy Award-winning movie. It’s a small thing that adds much value to a course for a writer. From novice screenwriters to filmmakers, these screenplay PDFs take the course’s attraction to the next level.
A Comprehensive Course From Writing to Pitching
Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass is a full-on-full screenwriting course. He guides the students from writing stories to visualizing scenes to pitching their first script. Not many online courses provide the same value for a writer. If you ever face difficulties in one aspect of screenwriting, you can always get advice from Sorkin’s class.
What I Didn’t Like about Aaron Sorkin MasterClass
Group Workshops and Writers’ Room Chapters Are Too Long
These two chapters take a big part of the entire course. You can learn practical things from these lessons, but the format doesn’t change. It can be unappealing or boring if you aren’t ready to immerse yourself in screenwriting.
One of The Lengthiest MasterClasses
The great detail of the course is excellent, but it adds up to the total duration. Compared to other writing and filmmaking MasterClasses I reviewed, for example Steve Martin MasterClass review, I was afraid to burn out from the information presented. Although it didn’t happen as much (luckily!), it’d be nice if it was shorter. I recommend following our fast-track lesson plan if you end up thinking the same.
Is Aaron Sorkin MasterClass a Good purchase?
Price of Aaron Sorkin MasterClass
You will need an all-access pass to MasterClass to learn from Aaron Sorkin. There are three different MasterClass subscription models. The most affordable subscription is $10.00 a month (billed annually), which gives you access to all MasterClass courses, including Samuel L. Jackson’s acting lessons, Jeff Koons’ art and creativity, and much more. Other subscriptions are available at $15.00 and $20.00 a month, which increase the number of simultaneous streams.
|$10 per month
|$15 per month
|$20 per month
The value you get from Aaron Sorkin’s and other MasterClasses, the cost of a MasterClass is nothing that will break the bank.
Does the Class Live Up to the Hype?
Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass is one of the best online courses about screenwriting and filmmaking in general. You will get to learn from a screenwriter with numerous awards under his belt. Although some sections are lengthy, it’s a good learning opportunity for novice screenwriters. It won’t make you a good screenwriter overnight, but you will know where to start and what to do.
So yes – Sorkin’s MasterClass resoundingly lives up to the hype and goes beyond expectations by providing a detailed course to up-and-coming screenwriters.
Aaron Sorkin MasterClass: Ratings from Around the Web
Aaron Sorkin’s screenwriting course is one of the first MasterClasses that were released on the platform. Ever since 2016, the course received countless positive feedback. Here is one Redditor recommending the course to beginner screenwriters.
A Facebook commentator appreciating Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass and work.
There is even a private Facebook group dedicated to his MasterClass.
Essentials Used in the Aaron Sorkin MasterClass
There isn’t a must-have tool to finish Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass. But he recommends writing software like Final Draft or a screenwriting template to write screenplays. He also advises using a stack of notecards when storming ideas, especially with a group of writers.
Courses Similar to Aaron Sorkin MasterClass
Other Courses of Writing on MasterClass
- Amanda Gorman on Poetry
- Billy Collins on Reading and Writing Poetry
- Dan Brown on Thriller Writing
- Neil Gaiman on the Art of Storytelling
- David Sedaris On Storytelling and Humor
- James Patterson on Writing
- Joyce Carol Oates on The Art of the Short Story
- Margaret Atwood on Creative Writing
- Salman Rushdie on Storytelling and Writing
- Walter Mosley on Fiction and Storytelling
- Shonda Rhimes on Writing for Television
Udemy is one of the most popular online learning providers, with a massive choice of writing classes. I recommend looking into Udemy’s Creative Writing Masterclass. It is a great practical guide on writers’ motivations, grammar, style, publishing, and more.
Coursera is another big name in the online courses market, with quite a few on writing. Their Creative Writing Specialization delivered by professors from Wesleyan University even includes a certificate of completion.
Skillshare usually focuses on more practical courses, but their Storytelling 101 course is really compelling and conveniently breaks down storytelling into “4 C’s”. The material is as enjoyable as it is useful.
Aaron Sorkin MasterClass: FAQ
I’ve spent the last ten years passionately studying various online learning platforms. Udemy, MasterClass, Coursera, and Skillshare are the main ones, but I review lesser-known study tools as well. I test and analyze each course and lesson thoroughly before sharing my research.