Trimming the fat. We do it to meat, we do it to our diets and organizations and governments try to do it to their budgets.
When it comes to explainer videos, we need to trim the excess fat from scripts. This isn’t just because of our shrinking attention spans. That’s a factor, but we should want our scripts to be lean and mean because it makes for better videos.
My friend, screenwriter and screenwriting instructor, Madeline DiMaggio, always tells her students that when writing for television, every word needs to count and must move the story forward. If it’s true in television, it’s even more so in explainer videos.
In an earlier blog post, I mentioned the importance of crafting an outline before writing that first script draft. The outline provides a helpful structure as you write the first draft.
In the first draft, you’re not concerned with trimming the fat. In fact, we often write the first draft fatter and then the fat trimming happens in the subsequent drafts. Even these fatter first drafts still tend to be leaner than they would be if we didn’t have an outline as our guide.
Now we can work with the client on trimming. First, we just cut out extraneous words by finding a simpler, more efficient way of saying the same thing with fewer words. This is the wordsmithing phase. We’re not making wholesale revisions that change the meaning of the narration at this point.
Depending upon how close the script is to the target length, the client may decide they like the flow and agree to keep the longer length, or we start making tougher decisions about what bits of narration have to go.
This can be a difficult exercise when there are a lot of stakeholders on the client side who all have their favorite features or benefits they want in the video. This is often when the client works internally on revisions to gain consensus. When we get the script back, we review and if necessary clean up via wordsmithing or suggest additional, more substantial edits.
Once the script is as lean as it can be, the storyboarding process starts. Sometimes minor script changes arise as the visual elements come together, but the fat trimming is complete. Now the magic of bringing a client’s story to life can really begin.
About the author: Kelly Reiterman is the lead copywriter and content producer at RocketWheel. She disseminates information from creative briefs, marketing materials and client conversations into crisp, understandable and engaging copy.