How Scriptwriting Can Impact Your Video
The visuals have been carefully thought through. The cuts and transitions are timely. You’re crystal clear on the sequence of the scenes. Now, all that’s left is tightening that script, and your video is good to go. You write and write, but the words don’t seem to flow the way you want. “What’s wrong?” – you wonder.
Hang on! Before you continue blazing through pen ink and scrap paper, here’s some do’s and don’ts we’d love to share with you to help make your video script pop.
#1: Speak directly to your intended audience
In the case of explainer videos, it is important to write objectively, in order to get the point across clearly. However, it is in this pursuit that many scriptwriters forget that the end consumers are other human beings. The easiest way to avoid this trap is to utilise personal pronouns such as “you” and “your”, instead of “them” and “they”. Another alternative is to show your audience the things they care about.
(If your audience feels that you aren’t addressing their issues, they won’t care about what else you have to say.)
Pen your script in a way that makes you a solution-provider. Engage your audience by explaining to them what they need to know and show them what you have to offer to ease their pains. But don’t forget, at the other end of the screen is another person, so remember to write like a person.
#2: Write a verbal letter, instead of a report book.
Video scripts need to have a life of their own, showcasing an experience, a journey – especially so for descriptive videos such as brand awareness videos. However, we forget that although writing is naturally read, scripts are meant to sound like a speech.
(Write with a combination of short, medium and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.)
If read without an ‘inner voice’, the two examples above are fine when printed in books, articles or newspapers. But we’re writing words to be heard and accompanied by visuals, so it’s important to always remember the difference between scriptwriting and writing.
The solution? Vary your sentence length.
– Use short sentences for energy and urgency. “Let’s go now!” sounds like more of a rally than “Let us go now because the movie theatre is closing soon!”.
– Use sentences of medium length to enhance descriptions and explanations. “The moon is bright.” sounds less interesting than “The crescent moon glows against the dark night sky.”
– And once you are confident that you have caught their attention, only then should you attempt to engage them in a long sentence in order to hook them in, although it is not recommended.
#3: Make conversations in your video seem realistic
Verbal interaction between characters can be tricky to relay across smoothly. It is an essential if your video is a narrative one, as dialogues could make or break the audience’s perception of your character. Unlike books, where one piece of dialogue must always follow another, video makes the perfect medium to capture the rhythm, speed and tone of realistic conversation, so utilise this factor effectively.
(From this dialogue alone, you can tell what kind of people both Lee and Sharon are, and how they react when forced to converse)
One common technique used by narrative scriptwriters is to establish the behaviour of the character and set a general direction for them. By doing so, you’d be surprised as to how much easier it would be to write a character’s dialogue from their perspective. This will allow your target audience to better empathise with the character, ultimately better relating to your video.
#1: Beat around the bush
If there’s one thing people hate, it’s having someone briefly tell them about an amazing experience, only to have the speaker ramble on and on about irrelevant details. Anyone clicking on a video is already actively searching for something – something that you have promised you can offer. So, without beating around the bush, a good practice is to clearly state the purpose of your video in the first 30 seconds. The last thing you want your audience to take away from your video script is: “Such a complicated process, for something so simple?”
(Want your audience to have a memorable experience from your video? Remember KISS – Keep It Simple & Straight to the point.)
Be succinct and concise when describing your brand, product or service. Whenever you’re unsure as to whether you’re beating around the bush or not, ask yourself this: “If I remove this segment of my script, would my audience still understand my message?”
#2: Use flashy, bombastic words
“Sure, an assortment of grandiloquent words could invoke an appreciable degree of credence in your audience.”
“Sure, some flowery words may increase the chances of your audience placing their confidence in your skills.”
Which one of the above two sentences were you able to understand on your first read?
Our point is; A little linguistic showing-off is fine, but repetition can cause confusion and misunderstanding, especially to the layman who’s just looking for a solution. Always try to simplify your words. If you’re unsure of how clearly your script can be communicated, try getting a friend or colleague to read your script and see if they can understand it without a detailed explanation. However, if your script requires the use of certain buzz words such as “ledger”, “conjunctivitis” or “hydraulic pump”, the best you can do here is to keep the use of such technical jargon to a minimum.
(It is essential to always remind ourselves that language and linguistics do not equate to efficient communication.)
There’s a reason why videos past two minutes long are considered ‘draggy’. Capturing our audience’s attention is already difficult as it is, so don’t make it harder to retain it. Before you bring out your inner Shakespeare, ask yourself this: “Do I really want to waste a good portion of this short timeframe crafting my message around words not many can understand?”
#3: Force a dialogue unnecessarily
While we understand that every narrative video has a story and we’re eager to plant key selling points across, it is crucial to follow this rule when scripting dialogue: “If everything is important, then nothing is important.” Yes, you need to explain the character’s story based on the ‘world’ they’re living in, their journeys, and goals. But don’t explain things for explaining’s sake.
(It may come across as redundant and pointless if you need to insert a dialogue here, such as “She is taking a selfie” – as if it wasn’t obvious enough.)
Instead of relaying the information through dialogue, portray it concisely through actions and visuals, let the audience form their own ‘inner dialogue’ for the character. If you have trouble understanding this point, ask yourself this: “Would you describe every single action you perform out loud in real life?”
At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel confident about writing earnestly. Although this article serves as a guide on how to write video scripts, for different videos, we strongly believe that writing is both an art and a science which can only improve through constant practice, so don’t feel disheartened on your first few attempts.
Nonetheless, we hope this has given you some valuable insight into scriptwriting. If you’re ever stuck with a mental block whilst writing your next script, feel free to refer to this guideline whenever, wherever!