Script Writing

What steps are involved in writing a script for a video marketing campaign?
And how do you create an engaging script for an online video marketing campaign?

Writing for a Marketing Campaign has many similarities to writing pure story for a drama-hungry audience for the small or big screen. My specialty is in developing and producing story/drama for the television market

1. The first thing to consider when coming up with a story which you hope will engender a popular response is identifying WHO you are writing for. Research and discover the demographic of your audience so you can target your best narrative directly to those that want to engage with it.

Video marketing is something that can be extremely powerful, but on the other hand you need to bear in mind the fact that you have a lot of competition. You are trying just as much to get customer eyeballs on your videos as you are to make sure they are not viewing your competitors instead.

2. Then you need to decide what it is you want to write about. Be clear about what you want to say and how you are going to say it.

So often, in the story work I do with writers, I find that they believe they have a story to tell but upon closer analysis it is merely a collection of interesting exchanges, or moments between characters, and not a cohesive narrative. Moments are great - but you need a clear and strong 'tie in' so all those moments connect into a story line.

3. Once you have your story roughly shaping up in your mind - get it down on paper. Structure is everything in storytelling. Without a good structure, your story will fall flat. You need to plot a basic three act structure; a beginning (or jump off point), a middle (what Larkin famously called 'the muddle'), and a good ending. Ideally too, at this stage, you need to factor in at least a couple of plot twists or turns between the first and the second, and the second and the third act. Keep the attention of your audience as the story progresses forward.

4. Often a story will come to a writer via a plot they want to tell. But equally important is the fact that a story needs great characters. So, make sure at this point that your characters are rounded, real, relevant people and do a dual job within the story you have - which is to push the plot forward and to reveal something about themselves via that process.

5. The final step is to make sure the script is what we in the television industry call 'a page turner'. This is achieved via a combination of compelling characters, engaging story line and an attention to the visual as well as the written or spoken aspects of the script. We are in a visual medium we need to use imagery to portray a message with the same dexterity and power as we use our words on screen.

What are some great tips & techniques to follow when script writing?

1. Firstly write yourself a 'mission statement' this is a statement of intent - it is a short and memorable paragraph to which you refer if and when you lose your way as you plot your story across the length of your video script.

2. Often, the title you give your story will help with this mission statement. So make sure your story has a great one. In television, dramas are often called after an element of the story within them. For example, 'Call The Midwife' sums up both the ensemble content of the format and also the period and intent of the story.

3. In television, we use 'loglines' to summarize our dramatic content so that in pitch meetings with producers, we use a short hand to explain the essential content of the story we want to tell. In business, we are sometimes cash rich but always time poor. So being succinct and to the point, to never over explain or write extraneous content, is a great habit to get into as a writer in both the business and the creative fields. Having written your mission statement; then condense this further down to a few lines that you can remember and bring up in conversation. This is your logline.

4. Write yourself a Treatment of the story and the idea as whole before you write your script. A Treatment breaks down what the essential elements of the idea for you before you commit to the script itself. I use a tried and tested template for all my drama treatments. The basic layout is this:

Title: (is this a thematic sort of title or does it do what it says on the tin? Eg: Happy Valley. Downton Abbey)

Format: (how long is your story and how many episodes is it?)

The World: (what is the setting of your story and what are the main themes within it?)

The Characters: (break down the essential elements of the main protagonists in your story - is your story an ensemble piece?)

5. The Broad Stroke Story line: (here you present the story in sweeping broad strokes to give a taster of what the script will contain)

Themes: (Here you outline what the story will give in terms of message and theme)

6. Once your Treatment has ironed out the kinks and weaknesses and identified the strengths of your story - now you can commit to the script.

Pay attention to TEXT, which is another word for PLOT or SUBTEXT which is another word for MOTIVATION.

Think of the TEXT like a muscle and SUBTEXT the energy which drives that muscle to do the work on the page and ultimately the screen.

Remember: Text must work with Subtext - without the two working together, there will be no message. Message comes from an audience engaging with the action of a CHARACTER whilst understanding why, via their subtext, they are doing what they are doing on screen.