How to write a video script
The script is the basis of a good film. Therefore, the success of the film relies on a good script.
- The importance of a script
- Parts of a script
- Key questions to ask when creating your video script
- 5 steps to writing a screenplay
- Tips for a Successful Script
The importance of a script
Why is screenwriting important?
The goal of writing a script is to create the main and original concept of your video production in written form. It provides a predetermined vision of what you are going to say and what scenes you are going to shoot to match the overall message you want to convey. The scenario will help you plan in advance the preparation of the different aspects that will come together in the final product.
Writing a script will also give you a better idea of where you want to go with your strategy. This can give you a better idea of the people you want to appear in the video and their roles. You can decide if an actor or a business owner will appear in the video and if they will do a voiceover or be on screen.
Parts of a script
To write a screenplay yourself, you need to know what pieces of information to include and why they are important to how the screenplay as a whole works.
Traditional screenplay format
The traditional format is the one found in a film script. The advantage of this type of script is that it allows for a more dynamic structure and representation of what you want your video to be. That’s why this format is the standard for complex productions in Hollywood and many other professional fields.
Always written in the present tense, if used correctly, one page of script should be equivalent to one minute of video. Although formatting a traditional script manually is very time consuming, there are programs like Celtx that do it for you.
You can also opt for a two-column format. Start by creating a column for visuals. Then create a second column for auditory items. The visual elements on one side should match the auditory elements on the other. You can then divide the scenes from the moments in the video by a horizontal line as you go down the columns.
This method works well because it is simple. By illustrating how each element works together, it’s easier for the whole team to conceptualize the video.
Key questions to ask when creating your video script
When crafting your briefing, focus on your objectives, theme and key points. It doesn’t need to be fancy or wordy, but it should include basic questions around the video:
- What is the purpose of its creation?
- Why do it in the first place?
- Where are you going to share it?
- What audience do you want to reach?
- What is the subject you are going to discuss? The more specific you are, the better. For example, if you’re painting houses, you might choose “How to buy the right paintbrush” as your subject.
- What are the key points?
- What should viewers learn?
- What will be the call to action?
- What do you want viewers to do when the reading is over?
6 steps to writing a screenplay
Now that you know the parts of a screenplay and how they work, you’re ready to start writing it. Let’s break down the process from start to finish in five steps.
Search | Step 1
Before you start creating your text, research the topic you want to cover and consult various sources. It might be a good idea to create a document with facts or key phrases that you want to include in your video.
Set Goals | 2nd step
Every successful project starts with a clear goal. You have to ask yourself and your team why you are making this video.
Corporate videos generally fall into one of three categories: marketing, education, and training.
Marketing videos aim to convince the audience of the value of the brand and convert them into customers. This is perhaps the most common lens.
Educational videos are meant to teach customers how to use a certain product or feature, while re-convincing them of the value of your product. It’s about retaining customers and delighting them after purchase.
Training videos are often internal and aim to teach and challenge employees to retain valuable information about their job.
Brainstorming | Step 3
Once you’ve set a baseline goal, host a meeting to brainstorm creative ideas on the video itself.
Ask yourself questions to better understand what you want to create: What is the video about? What are the things you want to say with and in the video? What unique ideas can you come up with for this project? What can each person’s creative ability bring to this video?
Create a plan or use a template | Step 4
Create a plan by asking yourself what type of video you are going to make. Some of the most common types of videos include live action scenarios, presentations, animated videos, and screencast videos.
Each of these types will have a slightly different structure. For example, a presentation will almost certainly require a more direct introduction from the speaker in front of the camera. On the other hand, a screencast (usually used for software demonstrations) will require much more explanation than other types of videos. You can overcome some of the initial difficulties of writing your plan by using a template.
Write a project | Step 5
When writing a draft of your screenplay, be sure to turn off your inner critic. Start by saying what needs to be said as completely as possible. Don’t worry about length, repetitive words or boring language just yet.
You also need to focus on how you (or your brand) would say it. Set the stage by using the right tone of voice.
Modify | Step 6
Before you consider it finished, take the time to edit your script for both errors and effectiveness. The best way to start is to read it for yourself. Immediately fix anything you see that needs to be cut or edited.
Once you’ve figured it out on your own, do a table read with your cast and the rest of your creative team. Reading the text aloud (and especially hearing it from someone else’s mouth) can help you spot a lot more mistakes than you thought. It also makes awkward sentences much more obvious, allowing you to revise your text.
At the end of the reading of the table, be sure to ask the participants for their comments, if any. These comments should make the script more effective in achieving the project’s goal, more entertaining, less awkward, etc.
During the final cut, you will focus on cutting the screenplay. The goal of editing is to keep the script simple, short and to the point.
Simple: No video made for your business should be as complex as a short film. Stick to one idea and say it in simple words.
Short – The best videos are also shorter and can be consumed in one go. Especially for marketing videos, limit your video length to two minutes.
Accuracy – Check the accuracy of the language in your lines. This means avoiding stop words and vague descriptions. Say what you have to say forcefully and effectively.
Tips for a successful script
With the tips above, anyone new to filmmaking can craft a solid script. You only need to know the basics to take a big step forward. To fulfill its function, a script simply needs to direct the actors, editors, and the rest of the creative team in creating the video.
Here are some things to consider when writing your script.
Even if you don’t realize it, the best videos always tell some kind of story. Even if there are no words or the plot isn’t fully developed, you can usually find an element of storytelling.
All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. The storytelling elements you include in your video will follow, even if those steps are completed in minutes or seconds.
The stories are also about characters and the dramatic events that happen to them. Look for ways to create conflict in your story and resolve it at the end. Even if the conflict is about someone trying to buy a better cup of coffee, bringing that event into the dramatic realm of a character’s life will make your video more impactful.
This is because stories evoke emotions. Convey a narrative that appeals to your audience’s emotions and it’s sure to stay in the memory.
Focus on the visuals
While narration is important, it doesn’t always have to go through voice-over narration or even on-screen dialogue. Most of the storytelling impact will come through the visuals of the video. Since many videos are broadcast without sound by default on social media, it is extremely important that your videos are visually effective before focusing on verbal elements.
The sequence of your message
When creating the overall message for your marketing video, you can structure it in a number of ways. However, the most effective videos focus on an order of events that tells the story of the buyer’s journey from stranger to customer. In its most basic form, there are four stages: Hook, Problem, Solution, and Call to Action.
The hook – In the first seconds of your video, you need to grab the viewer’s attention. Don’t rely on cheap tricks to achieve this. Instead, say something that intrigues the viewer or even just introduce the presenter. The hook should be clear enough to state the topic, but broad enough for the viewer to say, “Please continue.”
The Problem – Every viewer watching a marketing or educational video has a problem they need to solve. It may be very small, but it is there. When you’re creating a marketing video, your job is to state that problem bluntly. This will make the viewer feel like you understand them, which will make them want to keep watching.
The Solution – Once you’ve identified the problem, pitch your product or service as the best solution. This segment is where you present what you offer in the video as “the answer”.
The Call to Action – Once you’ve convinced your viewers that your business has the answer, you need to show them how to get there, or at least take the next step to get there. No video is complete without a call to action. Even with a training video, your call to action can ask someone to take ideas or techniques as they work. Be specific and include relevant links or pointers in your CTA.
Know your audience
To achieve many of the aspects that make up a winning scenario, you will first need to understand your target audience. This means knowing the age range and general culture of the people who will be watching your video, as well as their interests, challenges, and concerns.
To make all of this tangible, you can create personas for certain members of your target audience. Knowing this information will be key to emotionally engaging your viewers, as it’s often easier to write just one character than you can imagine in your mind.
Writing a script can be difficult, but it is perhaps the most important part of creating a high quality video. If you focus on engaging your audience through this visual medium, you’ll be well on your way to creating something truly worth watching.