A Few Tips on Writing Video Scripts
Anyone who has done any bit of writing will tell you that the way you write is heavily informed by the format in which you are writing. This is perhaps nowhere more true than in video script writing. Whether your script is a short 30-second piece or for a longer documentary, there are so many more elements that you have to keep in mind for this type of writing.
Here are a few:
- Don’t write to be read. The temptation for most writers (when it comes to script-writing) is to write as if your script will be read. You must remember that your audience will be listening (for the most part) to your script rather than reading it. That means it is even more essential to use short sentences, avoid word repetition, and be mindful of the way the words sound when spoken.
- Except when you should write to be read … Sometimes your script will call for onscreen text rather than voiceover. There are some huge differences for this. Writing for onscreen text requires you to be even more concise than you would be for a voiceover driven script and you must keep that in mind or your frames will be filled with impossibly long blocks of texts.
- You don’t always have to use words. Remember that with a video, not everything is communicated by the script. It is a balance between voiceover, music, visuals, and perhaps onscreen text. Keep in mind that as you write, there are times when it might be more effective to communicate without using words.
- Sometimes your script has already been written. Some powerful videos lately have used scripts that were written elsewhere in order to communicate something new. For instance, Dodge’s famous Super Bowl ad from a few years ago that featured Paul Harvey’s speech “God made a farmer.” Or more recently, Powerade did a great ad featuring NBA star Derrick Rose using Tupac’s “Rose from Concrete.” This technique can be a poignant way to connect with viewers. (But remember that you might need licensing rights …)
- Sometimes you don’t need a script at all. It pains me to say it, but there are times when little or no script is needed and the story is told simply through visuals and music. This does not mean that you won’t have to do some creative writing on the back end.
- Think outside the box. Okay, this one goes for any type of writing. The more creative you can be with your word slinging, the better your script will be. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination!