Have you ever put on a few pounds over Christmas or during a holiday, then on your return you’ve not been able to get into a favourite dress or pair of trousers? You bulge over the top unable to pull up the zip and no matter how much you wriggle about, you still can’t make it fit.
Well I was reminded of this little issue just the other day…
I received a series of scripts to voice. Each script was varying in length…and I mean varying, they’re anything from 102 to 308 words. Not a lot of difference if you were writing an essay, or a report or a bit of content for a website. But for a voiceover script, that can make a big difference – especially if it’s important that you have a duration guideline to meet.
‘Please can you make each one a minute in duration’, came the instruction. ‘I’ve timed it’, they said, ‘but please feel free to take out the odd word, if you need too.
Well, as I’ve just mentioned, the lengths were varying and while some would happily sit within a minute voiced in a nicely paced explanatory way, some absolutely won’t!
How the client has ‘timed’ this, I will never know. But I’m guessing that skimming across the page with the eyes was probably involved.
It seems that quite often, people in businesses are asked to write a script who have probably never written scripts before. So they write as if it was a report, a blog or an article piece for the website.
For anyone outside of the voiceover and media profession, text for spoken word is a very different proposition to content for the written word.
Scripts for the written word should be read ALOUD as you’re writing it to check how to sounds. Does it fit the allotted time? Does it allow you to be punchy, but make appropriate pauses? Does it allow you to breathe? Does it flow and make sense to the listener? Does it sound like a tongue twister? Does it use proper sentences and punctuation? Does it sound incomprehensible to anyone outside YOUR sector?
All of these things will be answered…and probably more, by reading your script aloud and keep rereading until it SOUNDS right.
Don’t forget that a voiceover artist is not a voice on a stick. We know about scripts because we read so many of them. We know what works…and we know what doesn’t.
For many, who like me have also been broadcasters, we know how to write scripts too. So don’t be afraid to ask us for advice and guidance when pulling your scripts together – or even ask us to write them for you. It’ll certainly save you time and a possible headache!
5 tips for writing a 60 second script:
- Read your script aloud – and keep reading it until it SOUNDS right.
- Don’t try to fit too much in. Pick the main points of what you’re trying to say and make every word count.
- Check that it flows, makes sense and isn’t a tongue twister.
- Make sure that it includes punctuation and allows the reader to breathe.
- If it needs to fit a specific duration – read it at the pace you want it to be read and make sure you time that read to make sure that it fits! 150 words per minute is a reasonable guide. This allows pace and pauses to emphasise what you’re trying to say.