Writing 101: How to Write an Engaging Video Script | Scott Luu | Skillshare

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Writing 101: How to Write an Engaging Video Script

teacher avatar Scott Luu, Video Creator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Introduction


    • 2.

      Objective & Outline


    • 3.

      Writing The First Draft


    • 4.

      2nd Draft - Writing Elements


    • 5.

      3rd Draft - Conciseness


    • 6.

      Method Flexibility


    • 7.

      Scripting How to Videos


    • 8.

      Conclusion & Summary


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About This Class

In this class, you'll learn about the process I call the 3 Draft method for writing video scripts.  

This class is for beginners who don't have any prior knowledge of scripting for video or writing in general. It's also for those who are curious about the process of writing a script for video.

Lessons will include topics on:

  • Objective Based Writing
  • How to structure an Outline
  • Freeflow writing
  • Writing Techniques
  • A Quick Grammar Lesson
  • Understanding Word Choice
  • Understanding Rhythm & Flow
  • How to make a script concise
  • How to view a script from an audience's perspective
  • How to create your own scripting method

By the end of the class, you will learn everything you need to start writing engaging video scripts.

Meet Your Teacher

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Scott Luu

Video Creator

Top Teacher

Hello, I'm Scott. I'm a video creator who loves teaching and creating random projects for fun. My favorite activities are playing the piano, creating videos, doing gymnastics, playing board games, and talking about movies/anime. Check out my courses to learn more about the various skills I've gained as I do more projects!

Since a lot of my courses are on Video Creation, here's a link to the list of my gear.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Class Introduction: Whether you're creating a storytelling video, a how-to or a simple explainer. Being able to write a compelling script is absolutely essential. It is the core and foundation that everything else in the video stands on. Hi, my name is Scott Lu and I'm a video creator on YouTube. I've scripted and created videos with over 100,000 views. And I'm here to share my personal method for how I write my scripts. In this class, you'll go through for core lessons that will cover all the essentials of writing a good script. First, we'll start off with how to create a well-structured outline and a defined objective which will serve as the foundation of your scripts. Next, I'll cover how to approach your first draft and tips on how to avoid writer's block. After that, we'll take a look at some writing techniques that can help you take your writing to the next level. Finally, we'll cover the best techniques on how to finalize your script by reading it from the perspective of your viewer. As a bonus, I'll also discuss how I personally approach scripts that are made for how to add tutorial videos. I've created a lot of how-to videos on YouTube over the years. And I've created a class on Skillshare that received a staff pick. So be sure to check out that lesson. The class project will be to create your own scripts by using the three draft method I'll be explaining. So follow along and do the lesson assignments at the end of each lesson if you want to make the best out of this class, There's also a worksheet available for download that outlines the class and class project. Finally, this class has no prerequisites and it's for anyone interested in learning how to write scripts for video. If that's you, Let's get started. 2. Objective & Outline: Before you create your first draft, there are two very important tasks you need to accomplish. They are to create an objective and outlined. Let's talk about the objective first. Your objective is what your whole script is based around. If you don't have a clear idea of what you're trying to say or do, it's gonna be very difficult to write. I highly recommend having only a few objectives and making them very specific. For instance, the objective of the introductory video that you watched for the scripting class was to convince you that this class is worth watching. The simplest way to fulfill that objective was to establish credibility by highlighting successful scripts that I've written and explaining the value of this class, but covering what you'll learn if you decide to take it. It's a very simple objective that guided the entire scripting process for that introductory with you. After you decide on a clear objective, the second action is to create the outline. Generally, an outline contains an introduction, three to five main points that support the objective. And finally, a conclusion. You can think of the main points of the outline as a list of many objectives that fulfills the primary objective. Let's take my how to create a whiteboard animation in one day as an example. In that video, my primary objective was simply the title of the video. So the outline for that script was a list of tasks or many objectives that needed to be accomplished in order to create a whiteboard animation. Here's the example outline number one, introduce the challenge number to decide on a video topic. Number three, write the script number for record the voice-over. Number five, edit using the whiteboard animation program. And finally number six at it in Premier Pro, this list is essentially all you really need for an outline hover. You could expand on that outline and create even more subheaders for each mini objective. For instance, number one, decide on a video topic, subtask a, create a list of topics that interest you. Subtask B, look at what's trending. Remember to write the script subtask a, literally it's the lessons of this class. So you can follow those for the subtasks. And then number three, record the voice-over subtask. A. It's literally my adobe Addition class, but it's to choose a good microphone record in your DAW edit and so on. Number four, using the whiteboard animation program, subtask a, how to purchase video scribe subtask B, how to use the programs, have tests to see, how to export, and so on. I think you guys get the point. I can keep breaking down the mini objectives into even more subtasks until we're at the most basic elements. And you can go pretty deep depending on how complex each step is. However, whether or not you wanna do this depends on how in-depth you want to go. And that is decided by your primary objective. If your primary objective is to explain something as thoroughly as possible, then go as deep as you can with your outline. If your primary objective, on the other hand, is simply to give them a quick idea of how to create a whiteboard animation in one day, then you'll probably want to talk about each step in a more broad way. Like I did. My video was not meant to be a full-on walk-through tutorial of how it was done. I save that for my class about whiteboard animations, which if you look at each lessons title is an outline in itself. And this applies to pretty much any well-organized online course or a single video lesson. So if you're ever stuck on how to create an outline, examples of outlines are pretty much everywhere. So don't overthink. It, just makes sure that the level at which you're going into depth matches with your primary objective. So the assignment for this lesson is to choose a primary objective for your script and then create the outline. If you're struggling with how to format your scripts or what to use to write your script. Feel free to adapt my methods. I personally typed everything out on a Google Drive document, since it gives me access to it on all my devices, I would like to change the color of the page because white is blinding. And I like to color my objective and many objectives a different color as well. I personally use the font L mastery at size 14. Of course, this specific format is just personal preference. You can write on a piece of paper, use of regular Word document or type it in notes on your phone, whatever works best for you. Once you're done with your outline, we'll move on to the first draft. 3. Writing The First Draft: I think the first draft is actually one of the easier steps when it comes to writing a script. A lot of people get stuck at this step because they overthink it. To make the process as easy as possible. Skip the introduction and head straight to the first main point, creating a good hook. And introduction is a lot easier when you know the contents of your script exactly. If you still feel a little stuck writing your first main point, try to think of your first draft as more of a conversation that you're having with a friend. You don't need to worry about grammar mistakes, sentence structure, typos, or any writing techniques just spill out as much knowledge as you can about the topic to fulfill the primary objective. This is called free-flow reading. And by doing this, you give yourself permission to make mistakes and just write in the way that you think or talk. It's not going to be the most eloquent piece of writing, but it's the easiest and fastest way to get the first draft done. We'll worry about fixing it up in the later drafts after you're done writing about the first main point, continue to write the entirety of the first draft using free-flow writing your outlines, the sub points will also act as a very helpful roadmap of the topics you want to cover. With that said, there are two things I almost always add to my scripts while writing the first draft. They are examples and stories. Let's start off by talking about examples. The strategy here is start with a general and then close in on the specific. For most scripts, I explain the general ideas of the main topic first, to help my audience gain a rough understanding of it. After I do that, I provide the specifics to solidify their understanding. The best way to do that is to provide an example. So I'll go ahead and practice what I'm saying by providing an example to demonstrate this idea, let's use my YouTube video called first-principle, thinking. After a quick hook, I began the video by asking, what is a first-principle. The objective was to answer that question. And the outline I created was a list of steps that breaks down how to apply first principles. I started off with the general steps. Identify your vision or goal. Step two lists all obstacles and actions. Step three, discover first principles. And then step four, built a new creative solutions. After talking about those steps in the general sense, I gave an example of showing how Elon Musk started SpaceX using specific versions of those four steps. So in the end, there was a list of general first-principle steps and then a list of specific actions that Elon Musk took that represented each step. Examples are powerful because they really help reinforce what you're trying to say. It's like going from the abstract or theory to practical applications. The next element to keep in mind, one free writing is telling stories. This is very similar to providing examples. In fact, for the first principle is videos that I mentioned. What I did was tell Elon Musk story with SpaceX hover. I like to think of stories as its own category and approach. Instead of starting with the general and closing in on the specific. By providing an example, you can write your script like a story itself and highlight the big points that you're trying to make while telling that story. Some simple examples are fables, like the story about the tortoise and the hare. One takeaway from that story is that being slow, steady, and consistent is better than moving forward too quickly and carelessly and eventually burning out. It is essentially a story that highlights a big point. So while writing your scripts, keep examples and stories in mind. So after finishing the main body of your script, it should be easier to write the introduction. Most of the time I start off the introduction with a hook. That is a question or interesting statement. Creating the perfect hooks is a very difficult task or that is highly dependent on the topic. But the general rule is surprise. Something that makes the viewer feel like they absolutely need to know what you're going to say next. Here's an example. The tallest man that ever lived on earth was named Robert Webflow, who is about 9 ft tall, hover. He passed away at age 22 because of an unexpected complication due to his height. And at that point, I would hope that the viewer is interested to know what that unexpected complication is. And from there I would transition into the introduction. The introduction is purpose is to communicate the primary objective and give an overview of what's to come. Since you've already written the main body, this should be really easy to do. And finally, the last step of writing the first draft is the conclusion. While the introduction makes the viewers curious about what's to come, the conclusion serves as a summary of the main points. Similar but slightly different. It's like the introduction proposes a lot of questions on each main point while the conclusion reiterate the answers that were given during the main body. Alright, so the assignment for this lesson is to finish writing your first draft. Start by free-flow writing with the first main point all the way to the last main point. Then go back to the introduction and finish off by writing the conclusion. Remember to just write whatever comes to mind for the first draft and don't overthink it. 4. 2nd Draft - Writing Elements: Now that your first draft has been created, the next step is to read through it while making some changes. The changes we will be focusing on in the second draft will be grammar, word choice, rhythm, and flow. Let's start by talking about grammar. Grammar is a set of language rules used to create phrases and sentences that convey meaning. They're essentially rules on how to write properly. Here's an example of a grammar rule. A complete sentence must contain a noun and a verb. It's a simple rule that you probably already follow for most of your sentences. Another aspect of grammar to keep in mind is using good syntax. Syntax is the structure of a sentence and how the words are ordered in that sentence. The general rule for good syntax is this, subject plus verb plus object compared to object plus verb plus subject. The first formula is called active voice, while the second one is called passive voice. Here's a specific example. The dog caught the ball is in active voice while the ball was caught by the dog, which is in passive voice, it's good practice to use the active voice the majority of the time. But it doesn't necessarily mean that you can't ever use passive voice. It does have its uses. One instance is one, the subject wants to be kept ambiguous. The ball was caught is in passive voice. You don't know who caught the ball, but that might be the point. If you're writing a suspenseful scene. That is a quick lesson in grammar and syntax. I'm mentioning the more fundamental rules, since it's easy to explain and to apply immediately. But there's way more to grammar than just that. Hover personally, I can see how understanding grammar rules can help, but I don't think you need to go out of your way to study them. From my experience, the best way to learn grammar is through osmosis, read books or articles by good writers in subjects that you're interested in. The more you read, the easier it will become to gain an intuition for grammar. However, if that doesn't seem to be helping, There's a rule that I place above good grammar, as long as the reader or viewer understands what you're saying and it sounds good. One read out loud. Who cares if it's grammatically correct? I'll leave it at that for grammar. Next is word choice. The words you choose to use will be heavily dependent on your audience and your objective. Hover. There is a general rule I like to follow. Replace week are common words with more impactful or colorful words. Don't start replacing every word with a synonym that you've never heard of before. Stick to words that you feel comfortable using. If you don't know many words. Again, reading more will seriously help. Here's an example I made. Grammar is a very confusing topic that I want to learn more about. I was too lazy in school to really try. But now that I'm older, I feel like I want to get back into it. So that's a pretty normal sentence, but let's go ahead and spice it up for the sake of an example. Grammar is a nebulous topic that I yearn to study. I was unmotivated in school, but now that I've aged, I feel renewed sense of inspiration. I changed up some of the structure for it to fit the new words and it is subjective. But I personally think that the second sentence has more color and interests to it. It feels more expressive. That's the power of word choice. Being able to say something similar with a different dynamic or level of expressiveness that brings us to rhythm and flow. I'll describe what they are using an example. Rhythm is a pattern. Here. Fast speeds that fly bye, thanks to these words with just one syllable, speed, a single word and sentence placed in a careful area in the paragraph can offer a much needed break from a longer sentence length. Try mixing up different lengths and speeds to offer a good reading or listening experience. Finally, Flow. Wait, hold on. I think someone's calling me. Okay. Hello. Pizza toppings, chicken and pineapple. Okay? That example is the equivalent of jumping to a different topic too abruptly due to a weak bridge or transition, it disrupts flow and creates a break from the content. So in order to prevent this from happening, restructure your drafts by adding sentences for better transitions. Or try moving sentences around so it doesn't feel like a jolt. Hopefully these examples help you understand the rhythm and flow. Riding with good rhythm and flow is definitely a trickier and more advanced skill to master. It will take a lot of time and practice before it becomes second nature. Alright, that's all the elements to pay attention to for your second draft. For your lesson assignment, read over the first draft while fixing or changing your grammar. Word choice is rhythm and flow. At first it might be difficult to think about everything at once, but eventually you'll realize how synchronous all of these things are. After you're done. We'll move on to the final draft. 5. 3rd Draft - Conciseness: Alright, We've made it to the final draft, where you'll be going through the entire script while viewing it as your target audience. The goal is to make it valuable and also entertaining for the viewer. So the first step to do that is to cut the fat and make the script concise. But what does that look like? Let me explain the general idea of conciseness. Nobody likes to feel like their time was wasted. Usually that feeling comes from consuming content that has a lot of fluff and irrelevant information. For entertainment content, fluff is one. There are periods of not so entertaining moments. For informational content. Fluff is one. There are moments that don't contain any useful information. Instead of making this mistake, the goal is to be in the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Make it feel like almost every moment is entertaining or insightful. It's certainly easier said than done, but there are strong signs that tell you when you've achieved it. Firstly, people were rewatch certain parts of the video because there was so much value in those parts. Secondly, people will most likely comments about how they found in the content informative or entertaining. Lastly, it should feel like a breeze to watch through the entirety of the video. For the viewer, those are signs for one, you've achieved a concise script that contains no fluff. But how do you get there? The simplest way is to pretend that you're reading through your script as your audience. In the second draft, you transformed your script into its most expressive form by utilizing different writing techniques. But in this draft, you pretend that you're reading a stranger's work. And whenever you feel lost or bored, or you just don't like something about the script. Cut it, be absolutely brutal with your cutting. Detach yourself from this read through and really ask yourself, is this part of the script going to be valuable to my viewers? Does this add anything to my script or will it just be the same without it? Applying this method will help you effectively cut out all the fat from your script. Finally, I strongly recommend reading your script out loud. Once you've made all the changes, reading your script out loud will make it clear if you've written a script with good flow, which will be important for the voiceover or talking head video later on. And that's it. The lesson assignment is to read through the script again, from the perspective of the viewer. Make your script concise and read it out loud one final time to make any final changes. From there, you finally reach your scripts. Final form. 6. Method Flexibility: In this lesson, we'll discuss alternative methods to reaching your final draft. Firstly, understand that the methods I've outlined in this class are my personal methods. Nobody really actually taught me how to write scripts. I naturally came to the methods from this class after scripting well over 100 videos at this point, my method isn't the only method out there to write a good script. That's why I recommend experimenting with the methods I've outlined so that you can discover what works for you. Everything I said it in this class are simple guidelines, not rules. For instance, the steps from drafts 2.3 can be done at the same time so that you only really need to create two drafts. After all, word choice is an important element to making a scripts and concise. Here's an example. My dog really doesn't like taking baths. My dog loads bats. The first sentence contains three more words than the second one. The average words spoken in a minute is about 150 words. So if you were to transform every single sentence in your script into a more concise form. You'd be saving minutes if your script is long. So that's an example of how the steps from draft 2.3 can be done at the same time. I separated it for the purposes of this class because it's easier to do all the steps one at a time when you're first learning these methods. But once you've become accustomed to doing them, the order in which you do them is really up to you. You can even just create one draft and have it be your final one. After each paragraph, go back to the beginning of it and make immediate alterations based on the steps outlined in draft 2.3. This way, you don't really need to go back to change anything at the very end. If you're in a rush, of course, it's still best practice to read through your entire script at least once to make any final changes. This was just a quick lesson on the flexibility of scripting. There's no one correct way. So if any of my methods don't suit, you, feel free to alter them. 7. Scripting How to Videos: Let's discuss one of the most common video types out there. Tutorials or how-to videos. For these types of videos, the objective is to teach the viewer how to accomplish a certain task. Will specifically be discussing the tablet tutorial that is straight to the point and straightforward. So let's begin before starting the outline for how to video. I pretend that I'm a beginner that knows nothing about how to accomplish the task. This is an essential perspective to adopt that will prevent you from overlooking important steps that seem obvious to you, but not to a beginner. So with that perspective in mind, create the outline based on the steps to accomplish the task. My how to create a whiteboard animation in one day video. As a good example of how to organize a tutorial video. However, let's talk about some qualities that are more unique to how to end tutorial videos. Firstly, keep your objective front and center. You'll most likely be teaching something you'd know how to do well, which means you probably encountered a lot of different variables in your experience. If you want to bring up these variables and you have extra things to say or special cases you want to mention. I recommend talking about them in a different video. But if you do want to do it within the same video, just make sure not to ruin the flow by spending too much time on non-essential details. Your objective is not to demonstrate your knowledge, but rather to give the viewer a good experience understanding and digesting new information. Next, when giving examples in the tutorial, I highly recommend you show common use cases. First, for instance, in my tutorials on microphones, I have an entire section dedicated to how that specific microphone is used. I show whether it's for indoor or outdoor use, spoken into the top or the side of it, and so on. For this type of video, I tend to use less story-based examples and stick to very clear examples. Another attribute that needs extra attention for how-to videos is clarity. Proper grammar, simple and straightforward word choice, a faster rhythm, and a continuous flow are all important in supporting a high level of clarity in your script. It also really helps to be concise. I can't stress that enough. And that's another big point in itself. Repeat any very important information to make it stick for the viewer. Remember that a good amount of people will probably be new to the topic. So instead of just saying something is important, one time, emphasize important points a couple times to really drill it in. Alright, so that is it in terms of the extra things I wanted to mention for tutorial and how-to videos, they're generally pretty straightforward to create. Just remember to introduce a list of steps described the essentials of each step in order give examples of the most common uses and be as clear and concise as possible. Presenting things in a very organized and structured way is the key to making a good tutorial. 8. Conclusion & Summary: Congratulations on making it to the end of this class. Here's a summary of what you've learned. First, you learn how to create a well-defined, objective and structured outline as your foundation for the rest of your scripting process. Next, you learned how to write the first draft using the free flow technique. After that, we covered grammar, syntax, word choice, rhythm, and flow. You learned how manipulating these things can change the feel of your script, allowing you to express what you want to say in different ways. Next, you entered the perspective of a viewer and read your script out loud to make it more concise and flow better. You also learned that this method is flexible. There are guidelines, not rules. I hope you were able to finish the class project and create your own script based on the three draft method. Please feel free to submit your class project below, and I'll try my best to review it and give you feedback. Finally, I want to thank you for making it to the end of this class. It's been fun getting to talk about scripting with you. If you learn something or enjoyed the class, I'd appreciate it if you gave this class a review and hit that follow button. I'm looking forward to making more classes and I love for you to be a part of it. In the meantime, if you'd like to check out what I'm up to, you can find me on YouTube. By channels are called dreamland and Scottie looted. Anyways, best of luck with writing your script, and I hope to see you in the next class.