Voice acting scripts are the bones of your production. The script is not only the words of your production, but also the key to the emotions, nuances, and setting for your voice actor to perform and convey.
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This post has been updated in September 2021.
What Makes Great Voice Acting Scripts?
Writing voice acting scripts is a world all its own. It’s not just great writing that makes a script good, it’s so much more than that. In a visual production where the actor is well, acting, the audience gets to see everything. They see the setting, they see the head nods or the hugs or the scowls, they see the chemistry between actors or they see the delicious cake someone is about to cut into. But in an audio script, the voice actor has to convey all of this. The clues and cues for the voice actor are in the script.
When you are creating your script, remember, even if you have always been a great writer, script writing is a whole new ball game. Especially when it comes to writing voice acting scripts. When you write novels or brochures or blogs, your audience is reading them. They create the cadence, the flow, and the intricacies in their mind. However, with a script, your voice actor is conveying all of this to the audience. The more you can give your voice actor in the script, the better the job he or she can do.
Some Helpful Tips to Incorporate
The Learning Coach shares some great tips for voice over scripts. Let’s take a look:
- Sound Natural – In other words, write like you speak. Remember, this is being read out loud so it sounds conversational. If you can keep this natural and organic sounding, instead of like it has been scripted, the piece will have a nice flow to it. Your voice actor can also more easily add natural inflections and conversational tones.
- Be Concise – Often your time is limited (radio commercials), and even when it’s not, you don’t want to lose your audience. So The Learning Coach advises getting to the point quickly, in other words, focus on what’s most important and be concise.
- Listen to Radio Commercials – According to this article, radio commercials are a great model of concise and effective script writing. With the short time allotted, there is a pattern of say it-explain it-repeat it. First, the script grabs the listener’s attention and curiosity, then it provides the details. This is a good pattern for whatever you may be writing.
- Keep the Voice Consistent – This means to keep things like your tone, the use of contractions or not, and the overall feel the same. Keep it all consistent even if you write the script over a period of time or other writers are involved. The voice has to be consistent throughout for credibility.
- Read the Script Out Loud – Even if you’re not the voice actor, read your script out loud. This will give you the feel of the flow and how it will sound. You’ll see any of those unwanted inconsistencies and notice how it sounds. You can hear any awkward phrasing or choppy or too long sentences. It’s better to do this on your end and fix what needs to be fixed than when the voice actor begins to read.
The most important thing is to keep your voice acting scripts consistent and natural sounding. Read them out loud so you know what your listeners will be hearing.
Finding the Right Voice Actor for Your Voice Acting Scripts
Now that you have completed your script, it is time to get your voice actor involved. Finding the right voice actor can be tricky because you want someone to convey the mood and tone you have created. This article from Bunny Studio provides some great tips on finding the right voice for your script.
You’ll want to consider things like do you want a male or female voice? Would an older or younger voice be better? If it’s a book or other acting piece, do you want a voice actor with stage or film acting experience? What type of voice do you want – excited or sultry, authoritative or curious? These are all things to consider because the closer you can match your actor to your script, the better your project will be.
Also, the more you can convey upfront for your actor, the more successful the read will be. It’s just like getting the script to hold as much detail and clues as possible, now it is time for you to share those clues and cues with your actor to make sure the job is for them.
Working with Your Voice Actor
Now you have your completed script and you have your voice actor. It is time to put them together. You don’t just want to throw them together, it’s your job to meld them together in a perfect fit, like a lock and key or a puzzle piece.
In an NPR interview, Mark Hamill talks about his love of voice acting and his admiration of voice actors. He says, “The actors in voice over are some of the best I’ve ever worked with: on screen, on television, on Broadway, off Broadway — they’re just incredibly talented… They’re so versatile and some of them are just brilliant mimics or impressionists.” He shares that with voice acting, “You can be more emphatic, a little more over the top. … You’re liberated to make choices that you would never make on camera.”
So as the writer of voice acting scripts, it’s your job to direct the voice actor, but also let them take it and tweak it. The more detail in the script and the more upfront direction you give them, the better they can do this.
Debbie Grattan shares great information on working with your voice actor before the reading. She includes things like:
- Discuss words with multiple pronunciations and let your actor know how you’d like them to read (neither, either).
- Share who the audience is so the actor can reach them.
- Use examples. You can take these from previous voice acting scripts that you’ve produced or you can pull examples from work the actor has already done. Use your examples for both what you want and what you don’t want to. It’s much easier to do this beforehand than after the fact.
The more you give upfront with voice acting tips and the more information you share on what you want, the better your reads will go. Remember, however talented your voice actor may be, he or she is not a mind reader. Once the reading begins, you shouldn’t have to convey any more of what you want. The actor should be able to take it from there and let his talent be the guide.
What About Dialogue in Voice Acting Scripts?
Dialogue is an important aspect in voice acting scripts. Often you will just have one actor reading multiple parts. Sometimes you’ll have more than one actor, and both scenarios offer advantages and challenges. Again, with dialogue, the more information you can give upfront, the better your voice actor can perform.
If you just have one actor but more than one character, it’s important to know that he can read the dialogue in different voices. At least they need to be different enough so your audience can differentiate them. Maybe that little bit of inflection or accent or a change in pitch is enough. If you have multiple actors, the differentiation will be easier, but you’ll still have to make sure they are on the same page with conveying the tone and mood of the piece.
Let your actors read a bit of the dialogue from your voice acting scripts in the audition to make sure they are good with dialogue. It’s a very different style than narration. Also, if you are working with a voice agency, make sure you request an actor skilled at dialogue.
Different Types of Voice Acting Scripts
We’ve mentioned dialogue in voice acting scripts. This could be in a radio commercial, audio book, or voice over film. But there are other types of voice acting scripts, too. You may be working on a documentary piece with no dialogues. However, the flow and cadence of the voice actor has just as much impact as dialogue. You may have a lot of silent space in a documentary, and the actor will need to pick up with the same tone and pacing as before. Often the pacing will change, however, as the action in the film changes.
You may be working on a voice acting script for other genres, too, such as educational or promotional pieces, corporate videos or animation. Just remember that your voice actor should fit your script. You may have worked with an excellent actor in the past, but he’s not the one for your new project.
Here are just a few of the many types of voice acting scripts and projects. You can see how different they are and imagine how different each script will be:
- Explainer videos
- Animated short films
- Video games
- Public transportation announcers
- Security system announcers
- Audio books
- Radio commercials
- Educational videos
The Big Takeaway on Voice Acting Scripts
Voice acting scripts are the cake of the project. Once you find your actor, the icing will be added. However, without a good cake, it will be hard to ice and decorate it. So the stronger your script is, including detail, spacing, and dialogue, the better your actor can perform it. The more detail and direction you offer upfront, the better he can take that and perform the script in your vision. Cues and clues are essential to your voice acting script, and they are essential to sharing with your voice actor. Take these things into account and you’ll not only be able to create great voice acting scripts, but you’ll have an amazing, successful finished product.
Start your own script today with Bunny Studio, we have the best pros at your service!