How to Script Your Visual Storytelling Project

If you’ve tried scripting your videos and other visual storytelling projects, you may have felt like this process was removing the authenticity and natural flow of your story, so you may have stopped and decided to wait until filming day. After all, you know your subject well—so you may have told yourself you should be able to talk without a script.

This is not the first time we’re mentioning scripting your videos and other visual storytelling projects, as the script plays one of the key roles in the overall quality of your production.

So for the next few minutes as you read this article, have an open mind and believe us when we say: a script doesn’t have to limit your story or make it feel artificial. Instead, your script should help you to discover and flesh out ideas, as well as to identify the words, phrases, and tone that naturally fit into the personality and brand behind your business.

And of course, you don’t want to sound nervous or like you’re reading a literal script—it’s all about getting the right message out in a way that’s organic both to the people behind your company, as well as your audience. Very often, a video will say more with less words, so see this as a chance to discover elements you’ll be able to describe with words as opposed to visual elements and cues.

There are 6 steps to get you on the right path—let’s look at each of them.

Get your mindset right

Your mindset and attitude are a priority before the time comes to script your project. Most importantly, keep this in mind: your script doesn’t need to be a profound piece of literature. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t need perfect words.

One of the main reasons you may get stuck when you first start working on your script is trying to make it perfect and get stuck finding the words to make it happen. So to avoid bumping into this creativity wall, make sure to get into the mindset of just getting started and refining as you go! This process is here to help you stay true to you: you don’t need to speak or sound like anyone else but you.

Answer key questions to define your goals

If you’re writing your script without a goal in mind, you will make it a lot more difficult for yourself than it should be. Knowing who you want to reach and what do you want that audience to leave with after hearing your visual story is the key to getting it right.

So before you start writing, answer these questions first:

  • Why am I telling this story?
  • What is my angle?
  • Who is my audience?
  • Why will they care?
  • What value am I providing?
  • What should they take away from this?

Write down all the answers to these questions and turn them into a bullet-point list of ideas you shouldn’t forget to include in your script. Before you move forward, you can even print this list and put it somewhere in your workspace to constantly be reminded of what matters most in this creative process. Then, you’re ready to start drafting up your first draft.

Make sure you have a hook

The beginning of your video has to make your viewer want to watch the rest of it—hence, the hook. Introduce an emotional element, a perspective, piece of information, or anything else that will give your audience a reason to care immediately.

A combination of spoken words and visual elements often works the best, so start with that. Check out our We Are The Resilient case study to see how we’ve created an emotional hook in the first seconds of the video:

Write your first draft

Now that you have your list of ideas and your hook, it’s time to write the first draft.

The trick here is to write your entire first draft, no matter how imperfect it may seem at first, all in one sitting and without spending too much time on individual sentences and sections and fixing them.

This strategy works because trying to make each separate sentence work well is much harder when you don’t have the rest of the script yet. You may spend a lot of time editing, only to later realise that your text doesn’t flow naturally at all, and you have to remove half of what you wrote.

So save yourself some time and get your first draft done in one go. While you’re writing, think about the natural tone that suits you and your company and write your first draft in that tone. If you can’t come up with some phrase or word on the spot, write down the first thing that comes to mind or leave a note to come back to this, and move on with the rest of the script.

When you get to the end, go back to those notes and take some time to fill in those blank spots. That’s your first version done!

Read out loud and edit

Now print out your first draft and read it out loud. This is the time to ask yourself some more questions:

  • Do your sentences sound natural?
  • Did you use any words that you usually wouldn’t when talking about this topic? Are there any unnecessary buzzwords or jargon?
  • Are there any filler words that you can remove without removing the meaning of the sentence?
  • Are any sentences too long? Can you break them into shorter sentences?
  • Are there any awkward phrases that are difficult to pronounce?

Go through your printed draft and add, remove, or change any words or sentences with a pen. This will give you a good idea of the overall changes you’ve made.

Read through your script again with the changes you made. Does it sound better? More natural? It’s important that your edits turn your script into the version that sounds like you’re simply talking about this topic rather than reading it. The way we speak often sounds a lot different compared to what we thought in our heads while writing, so it’s imperative that you don’t skip this stage.

Write multiple versions

This step isn’t compulsory, but you’ll want to do it in case you started getting more ideas during your reading and editing phase.

If you thought of another way to tell the story you originally had in mind—or you thought of a whole new story that fits into your visual storytelling project—this is the time to write those new drafts. Go through the same process of writing an unedited first draft and then go through the reading and editing stage again.  

Get feedback

Finally, get your team involved. Regardless of how many scripts you’ve written, make sure to get others involved and gather qualitative feedback from them.

Some of the key thoughts you may ask from them are about the length of the script, the tone, the choice of words, and the overall emotion and message. There is an advantage to having multiple versions here because you can test which one works the best.

You’re now ready to start filming!

Stay tuned as we will soon write another piece about our top tips when you’re delivering a voice over or when working with a voice over artist and directing them. You should never underestimate the voice over, as it plays a major part in the overall production value of a piece, so stay tuned for this.

Did you find these tips helpful? Do you include something else in your scripting process? Make sure to let us know.

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