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Writing Tips From Aaron Sorkin

Some speak story theory by accident.

We started at 100 miles an hour in the middle of a conversation [in The Social Network], and that makes the audience have to run to catch up.

Start late and end early. This, and many other platitudes, permeate this interview with Aaron Sorkin. Some though find foundation in the Dramatica theory of story:

Everybody does it differently. For me, rather than tell the audience who the character is, I like to show the audience what a character wants.

Working with more clients and students lately one common mistake rises to the surface: that of simply telling us what the Issue or Concern or Problem of a character is rather than showing us. By telling us their issues instead of showing us, Authors imply conflict and deflate tension.

The properties of people and the properties of character have almost nothing to do with each other.

Characters are not people--they are points-of-view. That is what the Main Character Throughline and Influence Character Throughline are all about: a perspective.

There needs to come a time when you’ve got it, know what the scene is about, what needs to happen in the scene, and what the problem is. There does need to come a time when you just have to let it fly. You’re lucky to get to that point. If I just wrote genuinely badly, I’ll know it, stop, and be upset with myself. If I’m writing the way I write, I’m okay with that.”

Eventually you'll hit your limit with Dramatica on a particular story. You've got the Throughlines worked out down to every last appreciation and you've weaved them together into an effective and cohesive outline. Time to put Dramatica away and start writing. Come back after you have let the story fly and flow through you.