Re: Training Video Script Writing

Subject: Re: Training Video Script Writing
From: ROBERT SIDMAN <sidmanr -at- MCHFMCCM -dot- NAVY -dot- MIL>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 14:04:05 EST

Mike Uhl wrote, in part:
>Script writing requires one to think visually in a way unlike the methods
>for visualizing online help or documents. Video images move, almost
>always use sound, and often employ narration. It takes a while to get the
>hang of it.

Some people never get the hang of it. Writing for the ear is so different
and strange than writing for the eye. My comments here are written for the
ear, This is because I wrote AP broadcast scripts for 10 years while
freelancing broadcast commercials and training films.

>In other words, as Laurel indicated, you need to see what the end product
>of your script looks like and thoroughly understand how it got that way.
Here I disagree with friend Mike and Laurel. To get to the end product,
there has to be a starting product. As in all writing, get the words down
first. Get them right. Get them in the right order. Then worry about
movement, sound, scenery and the lot. Never lose track of the objective,
which is to tell an understandable story. Remembering how Mike got flamed
for profanity, let me put it this way: when you're up to your a** in
alligators, it's hard to remember your original objective was to drain the


>Work closely with the director and producer as you develop the script.
>They can give you crucial advice about transitions, possible
>shots you hadn't considered, on-site problems and limitations, etc.
Remember, you were hired to write the script because you know the product.
The producer and director don't, and have to depend on you to get the words
right. Have the producer/director do everything but the writing. You'll
have enough problems just getting the words down in a usable form. Trust
the producer/director to do the rest properly. After all, if they goof, you
all goof, and you'll probably never get another chance.

Some quick things to remember... One minute equals 150 words. Sentences
should be 22-25 words. No more than two clauses per sentence. Punctuation
indicates where to sneak breaths. Use contractions. The best test is to
have someone read back to you what you have written. It has to flow like an
ordinary conversation, nothing stilted, nothing unreal. If it doesn't,
that's why they invented trees that turn into reams of paper.

Get some books on script writing. Read Rudolph Flesch, who scientifically
looked at how we write and use language.

Bob Sidman
A personal view from <robert_sidman -at- fmso -dot- navy -dot- mil>

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