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Tips for Better Video Scriptwriting

It’s no secret that video is powerful. Humans are visual creatures. Video placed on a landing page can increase conversion by 86% because most people prefer video to text when learning about something new. In fact, the medium garners more engagement and drives growth higher than any other method or approach. Companies and individuals use video productions for myriad purposes, from corporate information and training videos to tutorials, vlogs, passion projects, and commercials. Not one of these projects would be of acceptable quality, though, without a good script. 

A video script is like the blueprint for the program: it contains the spoken word, narration or dialogue, music and sound effects instruction, but also the visual information required to guide the production effort, including locations, visuals, graphics, and text information.

Scriptwriting is a creative endeavor that usually involves significant collaboration. The scriptwriter works with project stakeholders to craft a creative approach containing all necessary content, the precise messaging needed to engage the desired audience, told in the right voice and tone. This is where the cinematic storytelling begins.

Of course, there are a variety of storytelling styles — narrative, interview-based documentary, or scripted drama to name a few — that each require their own approach to scripting.  This handy guide provides simple tips on getting started on video scriptwriting to tell a story effectively.  

Video Script Writing Tips

Writing a video script may be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Stay focused, enjoy the challenge, and use these ideas to help make the process easier and the results more engaging:

Understand the Program’s Purpose

Every writer wants their words to resonate and influence their audience. Understanding what it is you are doing and why is important.  Your video might be intended to sell a product, teach a skill, or simply entertain viewers. A screenwriter shouldn’t put down a single word without knowing the goals set for the project, because a good script is an essential step toward reaching those goals.

Creative Approach and Budget Constraints

Determining the creative approach is one of the first decisions to occur and absolutely has to be made with an understanding of what the budget will allow.  There’s no point in scripting for a large cast of characters or suggesting exotic locales if there is no talent or travel budget.  Understanding your production resources and figuring out how to creatively work within them before beginning to write is extremely important.  

Keep It Simple

Simplicity can be essential to exceptional cinematic storytelling, and any beginning scriptwriter should make that concept the anchor of their creative approach. It’s easy to get carried away and decide to introduce a lot of new ideas, but it’s best to stick to one topic, one idea. Ask yourself, what is that one thing you want your audience to walk away with?  Keeping that in mind with every scene, every shot, every sentence is crucial. 

Target the Audience

A video must have a laser focus on its intended audience to be successful. That means the entire video must be designed to resonate with that audience. Do this by brainstorming who is expected to watch the video and what you want them to know, to learn, or to do.  Then craft your script with a message and in a tone that will connect with the audience.

Define Your Characters

No matter if your script requires a single host or narrator or a full cast of characters, you need to define each and every character.  Give them a name and give them some backstory — even just a few details are helpful in ensuring actors can breathe life into the written words on the page.  It’s also important to designate a central character will keep the focus on point and moves the story arc along.

A Little Humanity, Please

Whether you are presenting information or promoting an idea through narration or dialogue, it’s important to imbue your message with a little humanity.  If all you are doing is presenting information, you risk your product becoming so much flat and unmemorable bla, bla, bla.  Using relevant thematic devices, instilling personality traits in your characters, or even a judicious use of humor can help your message relate and resonate with your audience.  

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these tips. They are powerful tools that can elevate video script writing when used skillfully. They should be in any script writer’s mind as pen meets paper (or fingers touch keys) throughout the writing process.

7 Key Elements of Video Scriptwriting

Most scriptwriters have a process that works for them to produce the best product. Beginners unsure how to start should follow a basic framework that includes these parts:

1. Prewriting

Prewriting is when you outline all the video ideas to ensure the key elements are included and organized. Things like the audience and goal are important here, but also consider the creative approach and audio and visual elements of the script. Writing a video treatment – an approximately one-page document that provides a broad-brushstroke visualization of the program, and creating a content outline of all major messages, learning points, or goals may both be part of this pre-writing process.  

2. Time Limit

A video often has a set time limit that shapes the script. There are roughly 125 to 150 words per minute in the average video, so screenwriters use that to gauge how long the script should be. While it’s important to get your ideas out onto the page first, writing to the approximate number of words for the time frame can focus your efforts and save effort and money in the end.

3. Educational Points

Aim to provide information to the audience, no matter what type of video script is needed. Even sales copy can engage viewers by telling them something they didn’t know. Understand the heirarchy of the information you wish to present.  What is the single most important thing, and what things are less important.  When program time is limited, some lesser important points may have to be left out of the script.

4. Interviewing Subject Matter Experts

Prior to writing, engaging with subject matter experts, hearing them tell their stories and explain how things work is critical to writing with accuracy.  We recommend recording and transcribing these “pre-interviews,” which then allows the scriptwriter to use these individuals’ own words when crafting a script.  

5. Get the Hook Down

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the first thing the screenwriter writes. It might come later, but a catchy hook may be the first thing the central character says. That might be a startling fact or a funny one-liner, but the hook will grab the viewer and make them want to stay to see more of the video.  A great intro helps a video build anticipation for the audience. It also helps them feel like they have an interest in how it turns out. 

6. Informative Body

The body is the meat and potatoes of the video, where the information is revealed that delivers the desired message. The body should tell the story in an organized, logical manner. Use short sentences and writing as people speak is crucial. We always recommend reading the script aloud to hear what it will sound like.

7. Closing

Some videos require a call to action, such as “call our offices today” or “download this offer now.” Others only need a wrap-up of the information and a reminder to tune in next time. The closing should reinforce the video’s message and help deliver on its goals through a call to action or other means. It should also remind the viewer what the video provided for them and how they can benefit from what they saw.

An Experienced Video Production Team Can Help

Video script writing is a craft that few people ever do exceptionally. Rock Creek Productions has an award-winning team of production specialists skilled in the kind of cinematic storytelling that will make your project soar. 

Our experienced in-house staff and comprehensive production facilities have delivered high-performing video projects for a wide range of satisfied clients. Contact Rock Creek Productions to discuss your next video production.

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