Presenting an idea, a company, or reaching a consumer these days mainly depends on creating a good video. Actually, online presentations and the rise of social media have turned video presentations into a must. And yes, in most cases, a good image speaks louder than a thousand words. Still, the presence of a good narration script could be essential.
But, this rule, like any other has its exceptions. Actually, it is often the case that a set of good images has to be supported by a set of good words. And to have those, anybody vying to make a good video has to prepare a good narration script.
A script itself is the written text of a play, film, or broadcast. It includes various scenes and describes in detail what is going on.”The performance of the actor, his lines, and movements are all explained clearly.”
But as Film Scriptwriting explains, “ it is the narrative description which takes up the bulk of your script. The narrative description describes the story within your screenplay. This includes action, settings, characters, and sounds.”
Basically, a script represents the essence of any film or video. It often represents that key element that makes the images present their message as it should be, or miss it completely.
Often video creators need to resort to narration as a part of their production. As Videomaker explains, narration, “often called voice over (VO), is the off-camera voice that imparts the important information that the video footage itself doesn’t.
Narration script complements what the images create, since “the images alone may not tell the whole story. That’s where narration fits in. When used well, narration adds depth and harmony to your production. When used poorly, narration can ruin an otherwise perfect project.”
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This post was updated on March 2021
Getting the narrative description right
According to Film Scriptwriting (above), the success of any film/video script depends on the narrative description. After all, it takes up the bulk of any script.
When preparing or writing a narrative the thing to have in mind is that is always written in the present tense. “Even if you’re writing a flashback or other sequence regarding past events you should always write in the present tense. The reason behind this is that you view a movie in the present time.”
Learning Solutions also put the accent on yet another fact. Before any word is committed to paper (or computer screen) “ it is helpful to have an idea of how the length of a written script will translate when transferred to an audio recording.”
Whether you are preparing a video or an audio podcast, you need to determine how long the spot or the program will last. They structured their examples based on preparing a podcast and came up with the following time estimates:
- Fifteen minutes: 2,700 words
- Thirty minutes: 5,500 words
- Sixty minutes: 9,500 words
That is why it is essential to pre-plan all your steps when preparing any element of your script, including its narrative part. Videomaker (above) divides the process of writing effective narration into the following steps:
- plan ahead;
- tailor the script;
- define precise timing;
- good pacing;
- use silence as an element;
- coaching the voice actors;
- make changes if necessary;
- know when to stop writing.
Narration can be just a brief part of your ad but can also present the bulk of your presentation. This is particularly true if you are preparing a learning video pr program or currently a very popular podcast form. Here are the above-mentions steps in more detail.
Good steps to prepare a narration script
When planning ahead, it is essential to decide how you want to use narration in your project. Using narration (voice-over) will certainly depend on the images you want to use. In many travelogues or hotel resort ads images can speak for themselves. Still, including effective narration can present that glue that will make those images stick together.
The narration script is on paper, but the narrator reads it, and the viewers/listeners hear it. That is why you should always hear how your script sounds before recording it. One of the things to pay attention there is to be sure that the narration matches the tone of the whole project.
Getting the timing right is essential for any script. That is where reading the script aloud also plays a part as you can make sure words patch the images precisely as they should. You should make sure that you create a good balance between the words and the visuals. There, the term ‘silence is golden’ can play a part. Sometimes narration is not really necessary.
Any narration script has to include remarks to the voice-over artist on how he should read the text. These remarks have to be in one of the two standard scriptwriting formats. The first includes two columns, where the left column contains remarks. The second includes one column in the center of the page. Descriptions are written as all-caps.
After he prepares the script, the author or the original client should oversee the preparation of the voice-over artist. Doing that before the actual recording can save some good time and money.
While the preparation and the recording itself are on, something you thought was great on paper might not seem so when actually read or recorded. That is why you should leave room for possible changes. This often includes knowing when to stop writing.
A narration script in practice – podcasts
Of all the current forms that use a narration script, a podcast could be the one where a good script can matter the most. As Learning Solutions (above) explains, “a narrative podcast is telling a story,” so it should include the basic elements of a dramatic structure. These are often the same elements that come into play when preparing a ‘regular’ film or a video. These are:
- Story arc: beginning, middle, and the end to your story
- Exposition: the introduction of background information, such as setting and backstories
- Conflict: situations where characters are challenged or must overcome some adversity
- Climax: a turning point for the characters’ story; the beginning of overcoming the conflict
- Denouement: resolution to the conflict
When preparing a narration script you have to define whether there will be just a single narrator or will it include different characters.
For a podcast that includes characters, it is key to define the characters that will be present to be as detailed as possible. The more there is detail to the characters, the more will the potential audience connect to them. Their involvement has to differ to the one of a single narrator or voice-over.
Involving the audience in that manner will certainly make the whole podcast effective. Of course, even with a single narrator, it is essential that his tone is complementary to the initial tone the creator wants to achieve. Sometimes, it could be even the monotone or the tone of a newscaster.
A narration script in practice – eLearning
In the eLearning industry, the success of a course often depends on engaging the listeners/viewers in the course. The use of a narrative script in the so-called branching scenarios can often be the key.
Writing a plausible narration script for a benching scenario is probably the most difficult thing to do. “You must ensure that characters are memorable and relatable and that online learners know how to use the information in real-world contexts.”
Besides the usual advance preparation, and testing the final version of the script, this eLearning specialist recommends the following steps:
- researching the audience of any specific course;
- the author should prepare the script from the character’s perspective;
- there should be a constant focus on “one topic, task or concept;
- branching scenarios in eLearning should mimic real-life situations and challenges;
- the narration script should include clear instructions;
- always tie in into a real-world situation so the narrative script should include realistic examples.
Sometimes even great images need words
Both eLearning and podcasts represent a big chunk of the market that has a good use for narration scripts. And while the key in the production of documentary films, various videos, and ads is in the images, they often need some good words.
Preparing a good narration script for any of those can often be as essential as having some amazing footage that you want to present. That is why paying attention to the preparation of a narrative script can be the tip on the scales that could bring success.