Video Script Writing for Dummies

April 25, 2017   /   by  Diane Callihan

7 Tips for Great Video Scripts

Script writing is one of my favorite forms of writing. Video scripts are typically short, powerful stories, and it’s fun to see them come to life under someone’s creative direction.

That said, there are a few tricks to crafting a successful script.

  1. Tell a story. Even if it’s a short story, it should take viewers through a journey. Tell the tale of someone who is facing a problem that your product or service can solve. And use these key components to good storywriting.
  2. Think of a visual theme. Some people can picture what the video will look like, and then write the script to match. Since I’m a words person, I start with the script and then try to come up with visuals that will help illustrate my story. Either way, try to think of a cohesive theme that ties all the visual components together.
  3. Timing is everything. This is the hardest part of script writing. If you are writing a script for a one-minute explainer video, you only have about 135-175 words to play with. That sounds easy, but typically, you’re going to have to write out your whole script and then edit it down repeatedly to get it to where it needs to be, while still saying everything you want to say. You must prioritize your key message(s) and ruthlessly cut everything else.
  4. Read your drafts out loud. This is for two reasons: One – since timing by word count is not an exact science, you should time yourself reading the script aloud. You’ll probably have a professional who does your voiceover, but it will at least give you a sense if you’re close. Two – when you read out loud, you’ll be able to hear sentences that sound awkward or are too long, words that cause you to stumble, clunky pacing, etc.
  5. Give it cadence and rhythm. In a way, a video script should read like a poem. Not a rhyming, Hallmark-esque kind of poem, but it should mix longer sentences with short, powerful sentences. Repeat key words or phrases. Build intensity through language.
  6. Keep it simple. Avoid jargon, big fancy words designed to impress, and acronyms that people may not understand. Don’t use long, complicated sentences that lose people. Be conversational. Be friendly. Write as you would speak.
  7. Have a goal and call-to-action. Sure, you want people to watch your video and maybe learn about your products or services, but what do you want them to do after watching it? Call you? Go to a landing page? Buy your product? Share the video? Tell your user, both in your script and on-screen, exactly what you’d like them to do next.
  8. We actually won an Emmy award for a recent video we produced about animated explainer videos. Check it out and let us know if we can help you with your next video project. Let’s Talk.

    Diane Callihan

    Diane Callihan

    With more than 20 years of experience writing for some of the country’s top brands, Diane helped to shape Roger West’s content strategy, lead generation, and PR efforts as Director of Marketing. She currently serves as President of Callihan Content Creation.