Lisa Merriam

Six Keys to Script Copy Writing for Video

Script copy writing for video is not like writing for print. No one sees your words; they are heard, not read. That has important implications for script structure, style, word choice and more. Here are key tips for script copy writing for more effective Web videos.

Write for the Ear

Use simple language. That means short, simple words (“use” is much better than “utilize”), short sentences (no dependent clauses and multi-word phrases where a single word will do), and common vernacular (no jargon and formal business, technical or legal language). Avoid tongue-twisters—read your copy aloud because some phrases don’t look hard to read, but turn out to be a bit hard to say. You don’t even have to use full, grammatically correct sentences. Often a phrase will do.

Write to for Eye

Think about what people will see on the screen when the words are being spoken. If you can’t think of what is on the screen during a particular sentence, re-think your writing. A long still visual over a long, complex sentence will create a boring video. If your scripted words do not match with scripted visuals, you have a problem.

Write Before You Shoot

Write the best possible script you can before shooting your video. That will give you a h2 basis for gathering visuals. For instance your script might say “Joe’s company turned the corner in 2009…” and then plan to shoot Joe in his car turning into the driveway of his corporate headquarters. Carefully read through each line of your script and think about what to show on the screen to compile a shot list.

Rewrite After You Shoot

No matter how carefully you plan, your actual shoot will most likely leave you with both less and more than you planned. You might not be able to get a shot you thought you needed. You may find you had the opportunity to get a shot you hadn’t considered. Look through your raw footage and compare it with your script. You may need to make adjustments to account for missing shots and to take advantage of great shots you had not considered.

Write Engagingly

A dry corporate report may earn at least a passing glance, but people will click away from a dull video in less than a second. Write in sound bites. Use wit. Be surprising and provocative, creative and quotable in your video copy writing.

Write One Idea Per Video

Aspiring advertisers quickly learn that a brand can only stand for one thing and that an ad can only convey one idea. Web videographers are advised to heed that same advice. Web videos must be short and focused (see the other articles in this video series for more video tips). If you have three ideas, don’t make one long video, make three pithy one. You can’t easily skim through a long video to find the 35 seconds you really want to hear. A series of focused videos lets your audience identify the content that best fits their interest and go directly to it.

And one last step before you are done–go back and shorten the script more!