Write Killer Video Scripts Using This Hollywood Screenwriting Method

With the advent of Snapchat and Instagram stories for brands and a prediction that video streaming will make up 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2019, the past year has made it clear that producing compelling, well-executed video content is paramount for brands in 2016.

While strong visuals are critical to the success of your video, many marketers fail to create a tight, engaging story to accompany their visuals. Many marketers are missing out on a powerful opportunity to draw consumers into their brand’s story.

The easiest way to improve to to learn to write video scripts

The idea of writing video scripts can feel daunting. Scriptwriting as a discipline is a much different beast than writing copy for marketing collateral. Because audiences consume most video content via TV and film, marketers must find ways to tap into that experience and replicate it on a smaller scale. Good storytelling really does speak to customers, but how do you create an effective story? Here’s one way: borrow the fail-safe method used by Hollywood screenwriters.

The Hero’s Journey

Movies may seem to be diverse in their story structures. But if you look closely you will notice that almost all of them (especially the commercially successful ones) follow a classic framework called “The Hero’s Journey.” This is a narrative template first described by Joseph Campbell, who called the pattern a “monomyth” — a format for storytelling that appears in stories from many cultures around the world throughout history.

video script writing

Although audiences may not realize it, the hero’s journey is the foundation of how we understand stories. While the monomyth may seem complicated, it is actually a simple concept to apply, a formula you can plug pieces into to create a fully realized story.

The traditional journey consists of 12 steps, and the key ones are outlined below. You probably won’t need to add every step of the journey to your video script, but following the basic arc virtually guarantees you will have a well-structured story that will connect to viewers.

Step 1: Ordinary World

In this stage, your protagonist feels somewhat uninspired and undirected in his ordinary life. In a marketing video, this might be the stage in which you depict a person who is missing something in his life or is frustrated by a certain situation (your product will eventually be the thing that solves that problem).

Step 2: The Call to Adventure

Something shakes up the hero and causes her to think about heading out on an adventure. From a marketing perspective, this is the point in the advertisement where your protagonist starts thinking seriously about finding a solution to the problem.

Step 3: Refusing the Call

However, leaving your ordinary circumstances is scary. Most protagonists start out by refusing to take the transformative steps they need to better their life. They’ll turn their back on their first impulses and need something more to draw them out of their routine.

writing video scripts

Many stories omit this step, and many ads or videos aren’t long enough to make room for it. But it does survive in a different form in many ads, where people will question the new product they’re exposed to. (“But does it really work?” “But isn’t it expensive?”)

Step 4: Meeting the Mentor

Encountering a mentor gives the protagonist the courage and guidance needed to set out on the adventure. Think of how many ads introduce a character who’s already using a product to guide the protagonist through the adoption phase. In some ads (and stories), this character may be mundane while in others may seem somehow supernatural.

Step 5: Crossing the Threshold

The protagonist leaves the world of the ordinary and enters the extraordinary. In fairy tales and myths, this is usually explicitly a literal setting-out on an adventure, often into a magic world. In an ad, this is more likely to be a symbolic movement into a new way of life.

Step 6: Ordeal and Reward

After meeting friends and enemies and undergoing several tests as preparation, the hero must undergo a climactic ordeal before gaining the reward. While this is vital to a satisfying story, leaning too heavily on the ordeal may create a negative view of your product (as though it’s too hard to acquire or use). A gentle touch can go a long way here.

Writing Video Scripts

Once the ordeal’s complete, your hero gains the reward: your product. She learns all about what it’s good for and how to use it.

Step 7: The Return

The hero returns home with her reward. In traditional stories she may use a magic weapon won from a dragon to, for instance, defeat an enemy that’s troubling her home town. In an ad, she might use your product to clean her home quickly and easily — and then share the results with friends. Triumph!

When you create an ad that adheres to this structure, your consumers will know the story before they even finish watching. But because the Hero’s Journey mimics so many of our life journeys, they’ll feel that the story’s relatable rather than stale. Not all stories adhere to the Hero’s Journey template, and not all stories have every step. But by adhering to this basic narrative structure, you’ll create strong, recognizable stories that bring consumers into your brand.

Now get writing!

Author: Scripted Writer Emmay J