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Create a Script for Your Digital Project

How to write a script for your podcast, digital story, animated video or live action video

What is a script?

A script is a detailed, written outline of your digital media object that you will read from when recording voice-overs or videos.

Writing your script ahead of time allows you to better manage timing and pacing, word choice, important details and the logical order of stories and arguments. Your script also enables you to spot and correct errors in expression and communication before creating your digital object.

Before writing your script

  1. Review your assignment

    • What is the purpose of this assignment?
    • What is your instructor expecting from you in this assignment?
    • What resources are you being asked to use (if any)?
  2. Brainstorm

    • How can you demonstrate learning through this assignment?
    • What topics are appropriate for the format and requirements of your assignment?
    • Who is your audience and what are they interested in?
  3. Research the topic of your digital media object

    • What are the different perspectives on this topic? Which perspective will you use in your digital object?
    • How are you going to frame the stories you tell? You might try using background information to
      • Highlight the significance of an event -- e.g. What impact did the event have on the community?
      • Characterize a figure -- e.g. Which actions in their past are expressive of their personality?
      • Emphasize why listeners should care -- e.g. Statistics show correlations between smoking laws and public health
    • How are you going to back up your arguments?
  4. Watch/listen to other media with similar topics/genres

    • What makes a good video or podcast? What are some things to avoid?
    • How can you make your digital media object unique/stand out? How will your digital media object contribute to the conversation?
    • (See the library guide linked below for a list of streaming resources you can browse to explore existing media about your topic)
  5. Make a rough outline of your digital media object

    • How long will your digital media object be?
      • Divide your digital media object into segments and assign durations to each segment
      • Use visual organizers to sketch out your digital media object
    • How long should your digital media script be?
      • Use a speech calculator to estimate the word count for each segment (Don't forget about pauses and music breaks)
      • If you're planning to include interviews in your digital project, estimate how many questions will fit within the allocated time based on the complexity of the question

6 Principles of Script-Writing

  1. Identify your story

    • Identify the central problem or question that your podcast seeks to resolve
    • What is the hook that will draw listeners in?
  2. Determine the plot points

    • How do you build tension?
    • How do you guide the story to a natural conclusion?
    • What are your main arguments and what evidence are you using to support each argument?
  3. Organize and structure with intention

    • How will you interweave media resources such as images, video clips, music, interviews and sound recordings into your script?
    • How can you turn the broad ideas from your rough outline into detailed text?
    • Which sections might you want to leave unscripted to allow for more spontaneity and improvisation? 
  4. Words should flow

    • Practice reading your script out loud. Are any sentences difficult to say? Are you using vocabulary that sounds inappropriate for the purpose of the digital object?
    • Tag the script with emotion cues to vary your tone appropriately as you're speaking (E.g. fast and excited, solemn, curious, etc.)
  5. Feedback is best practice

    • Are the main points of your digital object clear to potential audiences?
      • Read your script aloud to a friend and ask them to identify the main points made in the podcast
      • Ask for feedback on specific things like audience engagement, tone, emotion and pacing
      • Book a writing appointment at the Library
  6. Create a world for your audience

    • What strategies will you implement to engage your audience throughout the video or podcast?
    • How can you leverage the medium you're working in to create an immersive experience for your audience? 
      • E.g. Add ambience with sound effects (setting the scene with street sounds, creating a relaxed mood with light piano)

Resources to Help with Research in Media

Guide: Find background informationGuide: Google Like a Scholar

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