You’re writing for the ear, so test your ideas by ear.
You can live in your head, and keep your ideas and solutions prisoner, or you can test them by freeing them in group or one on one conversation. Talking out your ideas is the equivalent of an elevator pitch. When you hear your stuff out loud you can tell how ridiculous it is, or isn’t.
One way is to read your script out loud to a compadre. This forces both of you to confront the sound of what you’ve written. After all, the narration will be… narrated, right?
Use Your Mouth to Actually Write the Script!
We used to use dictation a lot at the old Sorgel-Lee-Riordan multimedia company. We talked into tape recorders to write our scripts, and handed over the tapes to a transcriptionist who typed out the script for our review.
In forty years of writing, I know my best scripts were dictated. Why?
- My scripts were written for the ear. Simply by having to think before I talked, and then hear what I was saying, I was reviewing how an audience would hear what I was “writing”.
- And by hearing my words out loud as I said them, by emitting them into the ether, I could tell if they would live or die.
- No brain clutter. No typing. No overblown phrasing or excessive verbs or flowery descriptions.
More than for the eye, media is meant for the ear. That’s where the content, pacing and emotion lives. Music, compelling phrases, live sounds, human voices… it all lives in the soundtrack.
We’re back to typing now, for the most part.
But when I talk out a script or approach with someone, it is testing the premise, airing the concept, and finding out whether an idea can live in the open air. In short, hearing it out loud allows me to ascertain whether I can live with an approach or idea, or whether, well, whether it embarrasses me.
Better to find out now BEFORE I hand the client the script. And speaking of that….
Read the Script Out Loud When You Present it to the Client!
Some clients have an inability to translate what they read on a script page into a reasonable facsimile of what they will see on screen. That’s why I read the script out loud to the client when I present it. This offers me an opportunity to read the script so it makes “ear sense”. After all, good scripts are often written with incomplete sentences, sentence fragments, and may be lacking verbs or adjectives. I can also interject how the images and words and music will interplay, something that may not jump off the page when a client sees a two-column corporate script.
As an aside, I should also mention that I favor one-on-one reviews with the one client person, and not group reviews or committee meetings. Those usually have an underlying agenda, which has to do with a fight for room dominance, approval from the boss, scoring points and exhibiting one’s worst behavior.
I’ll get around to writing about that at some point, but right now I’m trying to remain constructive.