Creating a script for your video is a critical step that is often overlooked by novice videographers. A script should include all the actions, dialogue, locations, and effects that you hope to include in your video, in chronological order. A well-written script allows you to plan out your video's message, estimate the length of your video, and iron out any content issues before you begin shooting. Review the following steps to help you create a script for your video project:
Step 1: Start with a Video Summary
Before you start to write your script it's important to create a brief summary of your project and what you're hoping to accomplish. Not only does this help you understand your objectives, it also helps you understand your audience and how best to reach them.
You short video summary should consider the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your video?
- Who is the audience for your video?
- What are the important concepts/ideas you wish to communicate?
- What visual and storytelling styles do you plan to use?
Step 2: Expand your Summary into a Narrative
When creating your video you'll most likely have several ideas that you wish to communicate (your summary will help you identify these); the tricky part is translating these often disorganized ideas into a simple story for your script that resonates with your audience. The key element here is to ensure your script has a logical progression from one idea to another. Start by organizing your key points into an order that makes sense to you, then start to expand upon those points with detail until you have a basic outline of your script. Don't worry about getting the order right the first time, as you add more detail you should feel free to reorganize your ideas to add clarity.
As you add detail to your outline, look for patterns in your topic that you can turn into a narrative. This is also a good time to think more about the format and style of your video: Does the topic lend itself to humor or comical skits? Does the topic require a lot of complex descriptions that requires graphics? Could you introduce different concepts using an interview format? Or can you incorporate your own unique format? Next, continue to develop your narrative by adding scenes, actions, and dialogue. Always remember that a good script should grab your audience's attention and convey your topic in an engaging and understandable way.
Step 3: Remember your Audience
When writing your script, always talk in your audience's language rather than your own. Remember that your are meant to explain your topic in a way that demonstrates you fully understand it (for your professor) but also communicates the topic to people who did not do the same research you did (your classmates). This means speaking on a level that your entire audience will understand, with concepts and vocabulary they're already familiar with. If you do have to intrude a new concept or term, be sure to explain them in a full and clear manner. Don't simplify things too much, however, the idea is to fully demonstrate what you have learned!
Step 4: Keep it Short
When it comes to script writing, less is often more. In a great script every word earns its place and each sentence should be structured to get the point across. Say everything you need to say but keep it as succinct as possible; I guarantee your audience isn't interested in listening to minutes of complex technical details, long run-on sentences, or a list of steps your group followed.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your script as impactful as possible:
- Say something unique, not what everyone else says.
- Use simple, everyday language over unnecessarily complicated words.
- Cut the flab, fluff, and superfluous information.
- Never repeat yourself unless it's for dramatic effect.
- Be prepared to make sacrifices (think about what's really most important to communicate).
Step 5: Pay Attention to Flow
You don’t want your video to sound like you are reading off a list of bullet points so make sure you read your script aloud a number of times to ensure this doesn’t happen. You may feel a bit embarrassed reading your script aloud, but it’s the best way to ensure your timings are correct and that it makes sense and runs smoothly. This process will also allow you to identify any areas for improvement.
Step 6: Think Beyond Words
You're making a video, not writing a novel. You've got more than just words to play with in your script so don't feel like you need to communicate everything through dialogue. Consider telling your story and explaining your topic through editing, motion graphics, music, sound effects and voice overs. Instead of speaking for 10 minutes straight, incorporate eye-catching graphics, images, and video clips to explain your topic in a much more interesting and exciting way.
Step 7: Run-Through, Edit, and Rewrite
Never consider your script complete until you've run through it as a group at least twice. Get your group members together and read through the script as if you were recording it. This will give you an opportunity to gauge the flow and clarity and spot any room for improvement.