Writing is hard – and writing for video can be a nightmare for some. Whether you’re writing a script for a corporate video or putting together some executive interviews, it’s can be a huge challenge to put together your first video script – but we’ve got five tips that can help you as you write and film your first video.
1. Write Naturally
This is one of the hardest things to do for a first time scriptwriter. Often, when writing, we adopt a more formal tone – we don’t write as we naturally speak or interact.
While this is a natural phenomenon, it is to be avoided when writing a script – after all, the script will be read by either a voiceover artist, or the lines will be spoken by one or more participants in the video itself.
If you try to write a script as you would, a poem or a story, it will feel strange and stilted when spoken out loud. A good way to help avoid this is to read your script out loud to yourself as you write – does it sound natural? Do the lines sound as if they would be spoken by a real person, or do they sound too “writerly?”
2. Understand Length Limitations
If you’re writing a short video script for the first time, length can be a real challenge. You’ll be tempted to try to crowd in as much information as you can by writing an information-rich script and trying to simply blast out as much informational content with your voiceover or line reads as possible.
But in order for your viewer to really comprehend a message, you have to slow down. A lot. Typically, a word-speed of about 125-150 words per minute is appropriate.
This means that if you are writing a 3 minute video, you have about 450 words you can say in your script – and that’s if you don’t include introductions, breaks, or ending credits. Understand these limitations, and be ready to work around them.
3. Have A Point – And Get To It Fast
It’s tempting to try to get artsy, or give your video piece a long introduction – it leads to a cinematic experience that’s quite nice for a videographer or video producer.
However, this type of indulgence should usually be avoided. When your audience knows that they’re dealing with a short, informational piece of content, their expectations will unconsciously adjust – they will expect informative content to start flowing almost immediately.
The entire point of your video – a sort of “thesis statement” on what it’s about – should be explained within 30 seconds.
If your script is about a new product, for example, it should be mentioned (along with whatever benefits or advantages it offers) within 30 seconds, in a clear and concise sentence that makes it clear what the video is about, and allows the viewer to “buy-in” so that they will keep watching.
4. Share Your Script – And Be Ready For Revisions
This is an extremely important step, especially when bearing the previous three points in mind. When your script is done, it should be laser-sharp, with no extraneous words, stage directions – anything.
This is not possible without good feedback and peer reviewing. This step is especially hard if it’s your first time writing a script – sharing writing can be embarrassing to some – but great feedback from people you trust will help you identify issues in your script, and aid you in creating a great video script.
5. Prepare For Spotty Performances – Especially If Performing Interviews
Most people aren’t actors. Most people don’t like performing. Most people don’t even like talking to a camera. And this is a hard thing to prepare for, in your script.
Performing simply isn’t natural for most human beings – they may feel uncomfortable, forget lines, speak with odd, stilted voices, or just be very nervous.
This can also be the case in interviews – your subject may not say exactly what you want to hear, and you may have to do some reshoots.
Be prepared for that, and the time that it will take – not everything will go according to your script.
As you continue to film your subjects, they will grow better at performing – even just in a few short minutes. Have patience and understand that this is part of the process.
Writing your first script will probably be a struggle. But don’t give up. Writing scripts and filming videos is an extremely gratifying process, and once you get that perfect script, and film a great informational content piece to go along with it, your labors will be rewarded.