Writing your own script can be a bit daunting, but having the skills to map out your story with text as well as visuals will serve you time after time. Getting started is often the hardest part, but you have to remind yourself that storytelling is already your art—you just need to find the best way to express it in words. We’ve got a few tips up our sleeves that can kick start and refine your script-writing with successful results.
This may sound like we’re really in the weeds, but hear us out: having a defined format for scripting can help organize your thoughts and make the script presentable to clients. Showing how voiceover or on-screen text correlate to the visual story is critical to timing and structure. We like to start with a simple two-column grid: visuals on the left, audio or on-screen text on the right. If you have both voiceover and on-screen text, it’s usually helpful to group the on-screen text with the visuals, since they’ll be on-screen while the narration is overlaid.
Don’t get so excited about your next rad visual idea that you forget why you’re scripting in the first place. By all means, sketch that out! But then come back and build the foundation to support it. Remind yourself why you or your client need the video. What’s the end goal? Brand awareness? Lead generation? Explaining a process or crafting a how-to? All the beautiful graphics in the world won’t help you if you don’t have an objective in mind.
And don’t forget your audience! We covered some of this in our previous post on getting video views, but it always bears repeating. Whose eyes are you trying to get on your video or animation? What action do you want them to take? Knowing your audience is marketing 101, but it can be easy to forget practicalities when you’re brimming with exciting ideas. When it comes to scripting, you need to know who you’re talking to and what their call to action (CTA) is at the end.
When we’re writing, it can sometimes feel like we need to Say All the Things to convey the message we’re illustrating—especially when using voiceover narration. But many of the details can be covered with imagery or graphics. On-screen text can bolster it, if needed. When drafting narration, stick to the high points and the let the visuals expand the story.
For instance, instead of saying“This titanium-coated intergalactic coffee maker can brew 8, 10, and 12-ounce cups to suit your level of grogginess” you can say, “This coffee maker always brews the perfect cup” while illustrating a cup being filled up at 8, 10, and 12 ounces using numbers and imagery. This process also exemplifies the concept of “show, don’t tell,” which is critical to success in every written medium,whether it’s scripted dialogue or a short story.
You may feel silly reading your script out loud, but it’s the best way to get an accurate timing and finesse pacing. You may find phrasing that looked good on the page awkward to read out loud, or notice that you’re reusing a lot of the same transition words. You might even discover more opportunities to use visual content and slim back narration. It’s essentially aural editing.And hey, have fun with it! Use an accent. Put on a fun hat. Present it as a dramatic monologue to your cats.
But in all seriousness, read aloud, revise, and read again until you’re comfortable that the fluidity feels natural and the story is sound. Use a stopwatch application to time yourself, and give it a few runs. It’s important that you don’t rush through, as you don’t want viewers to get confused by audio that’s too fast for them to absorb. Speak at a slightly slower-than-normal pace, like you’re reading your favorite poem and every word is important.
Script-writing may not come naturally if you prefer to work in visual media, but having a concrete structure is critical to a successful video. Even just marking a beginning, middle, and end, or listing key objectives and CTA, are great ways to start. To find more in-depth “how-to”tutorials and workshops on all things video, give us a follow on LinkedIn or check out our site.
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