Kate Howley ’21

Masterclass Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting, Professional Development Course

I had the wonderful opportunity this summer to take the masterclass course, Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting. Aaron Sorkin is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter famous for such movies as The Social Network and Moneyball, as well as the critically-acclaimed television series The West Wing. Sorkin’s prolific experience writing for both television and film was of particular value to me in this stage of my professional development, since I have a strong interest in the entertainment industry.

Through the 35-lesson course, Sorkin taught his approach to writing for the screen. His lessons began by 
discussing how to develop ideas for a screenplay and where he finds inspiration. For him, these have often come from books he has read. He is drawn to compelling characters and he dedicated multiple lessons to developing strong characters for the screen. He also emphasized the importance of background research for making the world in your script as real as possible. From there, he delved into story structure, dialogue, and the real-world writing habits necessary in order to complete a script. Personally, I found that one of the most compelling parts of the course were the lessons dedicated to simulating a television writers’ room for The West Wing. As someone 
who is interested in a possible career in television writing, I appreciated the glimpse into the realities of that 
professional world.

This course served to further support my interest in a career in entertainment. Sorkin’s discussion of both film and television also helped me better understand the differences between these two media and where my own interest may lie. I have found that a career in television is particularly appealing to me. As I consider my future career goals, the writing and analytical skills I have honed through this masterclass will prove invaluable. Because of this professional development course, I intend on registering for an English course in the spring that will analyze television and its storytelling structures. Having taken this masterclass, I have learned how to analyze media from a critical lens, and hope to further strengthen those skills in a semester-long course at Williams.

This course has also provided me with the tools and confidence to be able to write my own scripts through a holistic approach to the screenwriting process from start to finish. Developing a spec-script is critical for any aspiring television writer. This summer, I was able to begin work on my own spec-script, using the workshops, homework, and lessons from the class to shape my own process.

I would like to offer my genuine 
thanks and appreciation to the Estate of Bruce C. Davey, as well as the ’68 Center for Career Exploration. It is through their help and support that I have been provided an educational experience that will have a direct impact on my career aspirations. Thank you!