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Scriptwriting for High-Impact Videos
(New Second Edition)


* Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
* Pub. Date: February 2008
* ISBN-13: 9780595449385
* 325pp

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Jump to: Table of ContentsPreface
About This Book
Whether you're just starting out or firmly entrenched in the field of informational video, you'll find this exciting new edition a scriptwriter's bible filled with stimulating examples and thought-provoking questions to unleash your creativity. You'll learn how to turn ideas into high-impact scripts-for corporate, medical, religious, educational, and government videos.

You'll be given a systematic, step-by-step approach to the creative process that you can adapt to virtually any situation. And you'll be shown proven techniques for communicating visually and writing for the ear, seven essential strategies for improving any video, plus guidelines for involving content experts and decision makers in the process while still maintaining creative control.

Also inside: Numerous examples and ideas to spark your imagination, including project proposals, creative treatments, research and interview questions, techniques for using drama and humor, and a complete list of creative approaches you can adapt to your next script.
Note from the Author
Here are lessons learned from two decades of writing for a living. All of the concepts presented have stood the test of demanding clients and unforgiving deadlines. All of the ideas are supported by examples taken from the several hundred scripts the author has written and sold.

More than a book on writing, this steps you through an entire process for managing clients, organizing research, developing a creative approach, wordsmithing the finished script and surviving in the food chain.

Two case studies (sales training and orientation) lend continuity throughout and show how each step of the process works within a real-world context. The appendix includes completed scripts for both case studies, a creative treatment for the orientation case study and a list of research questions. The questions alone have generated many enthusiastic comments from writers who modify and use them as an agenda for client input meetings. These writers credit the questions with saving time and enhancing their professionalism.
It’s not the glitz on the screen but the impact on the audience that’s the measure of an informational program. This book will help writers strengthen that impact by showing them how to make the best use of their time and creativity. It suggests hundreds of ideas that can be used as starting points and insightful touches. It covers all of the analytical and creative decisions that add up to an effective script for a video.
The skills taught in this book are also critical when scripting for film, PowerPoint® presentations, Web sites and other types of interactive media. And specific advice is provided on adapting these skills to those media.
The central focus, however, is on video, and readers are assumed to have a basic understanding of video production and writing skills.

Unique Features
  • Prepares the reader for an area of employment that is widely perceived as offering more job potential for a writer than the entertainment industry and broadcast journalism combined.
  • Presents a step-by-step creative process within the context of writing for a living, offering many techniques for presenting and discussing ideas, and for building group consensus.
  • In plain language, lays out the basics of dramatic structure, advertising concepts and instructional design as they can be applied to informational video.
  • Includes dozens of suggestions that provide a head start on developing a creative approach.
Overview of Content
Chapter 1 provides a background, history and overview of the realities of the current market.

Chapters 2 through 9 present a step-by-step process for taking a project from initial needs analysis to a completed script. The creative process is at best organic and the creation of video presentations requires the balancing of several interconnected, shifting variables. In this book the process is made as linear as possible and steps are grouped into specific training areas—while still allowing for contingencies of content, application, creative approach and working situation.

Chapter 10 provides advice on finding employment and reviews the major legal, ethical and career decisions faced by a scriptwriter.

The Profession as It's Currently Being Practiced
This book describes the realities of human frailties, time pressure and budgetary limitations rather than a rigid process for idealized situations. It prepares the reader for situations in which clients, content experts and even colleagues may not agree on—or even be aware of—accepted conventions. The ideas and techniques presented are based on over two decades of experience during which no two projects were alike and none was ideal.
The process on which this book is based has been presented and discussed in trade-show and convention seminars, and while teaching informational scriptwriting at California State University, Northridge. It has been refined during hundreds of projects and discussions with working professionals, who are seldom shy about pointing out any weakness.
This is proven advice that works under pressure. It can be applied with confidence by anyone seriously interested in writing for video—whether their concerns center on earning a living, making a difference or some combination thereof

Case Studies
Following its own advice—to show rather than tell—the text illustrates every major point by applying it to both of two case studies. This approach gives the reader a constant frame of reference as each new step builds on previous steps. The finished scripts for the case studies—a voice-over narration and a dramatization—are included in the Appendix.
In addition to these two case studies, a wealth of examples from dozens of other scripts are used to clarify points throughout the text.
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A Tool for Working Writers
More than a good how-to textbook; this is also a reference source that can be used often—for ideas to blast past writer’s block, for help with selling words and ideas to clients and colleagues, and for insight into a process that keeps making more sense the better it’s understood and the more it’s practiced.

About The Author
John Morley's been there. From working on staff in university video studios to freelancing for Fortune 500 companies. Along the way, over 300 of his video scripts have been produced. He has taught scriptwriting in corporate seminars and at the university level, and developed scriptwriting software used by thousands of writers.
After earning his BA in Broadcasting from the University of Florida, Morley worked as a writer/producer in school-based production facilities at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville Florida, University of Florida and University of South Carolina.
A move to Atlanta to work with Jack Morton Productions brought projects from Home Box Office, Milliken Textiles, Georgia Pacific, and a transition into writing full-time. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1984, Morley has been working with clients including CitiBank, Mattel, Pioneer Electronics, and most of the Asian car companies, including Toyota, Lexus and Nissan.
In Los Angeles, Morley studied with the top screenwriting gurus, Robert McKee, Michael Hauge and John Truby. He developed a seminar on informational scriptwriting that was offered through Trudy's Writer's Studio and at numerous industry events, and he taught informational scriptwriting at California State University, Northridge.
His script-formatting software, Script Werx, is used around the world by writers working for corporations, government agencies, non-profits and television shows, including Saturday Night Live.
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  Table of Contents
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The Invisible Giant, 1
Current Opportunities, 3
What Scriptwriters Write, 4
A Mix of Disciplines, 5

Current Challenges, 6
Techno-bias, 6
It Seems So Easy, 7
Growing Pains, 8

The Power of the Moving Image, 9
Harnessing the Power, 13

The Process, 21
The Case Studies, 24
Operative Concepts, 26
Video Commandments, 27

Comfort Factor-Buttoning Down, 28
Professionalism, 28
Know Who You're Talking To, 29

Needs Analysis, 33
Research, 34

Getting to Know Your Client and/or Content Expert, 34
Interviewing Your Client and/or Content Expert, 35
Research Questions, 37
Working the Questions, 37
Additional Research, 49

Determining the Budget, 50
How Big a House?, 50
Understanding the Budget, 51

Different Media for Different Needs, 52
Acquisition Format, 52
Distribution Format or Environment, 54
Web Sites, 56
Online Digital Media, 57
Live Presentations (PowerPoint), 59
Film, 61
Business Theater, 61

Planning the Project, 62
Writing A Project Proposal, 63

Project Proposal Approval, 66
Collateral Material, 66

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3. STARTING in the Middle, 68
Research for a Creative Treatment, 68
The Reality Backlash, 71
Acknowledging "The People", 74

Turning Facts Into Ideas, 76
The Creative's Paradox, 78
Writing Behavioral Objectives, 81
Finding the Central Idea, 83
Finding the Emotion, 85
Making a Content Outline, 86
Creating a Language List, 88

Learning From Other Disciplines, 90
Creative Treatment, 97
Why Bother?, 97
The Treatment Format, 99
As A Selling Tool, 102
As Creative Writing, 103
Developing Your Voice, 103

Different Styles for Different Situations, 105
Linear Video, 107
Interactive Video, 108
Incorporating Still Images, 109
Live Presentations (PowerPoint), 112
Business Theater, 113
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1. Create an Emotional Experience, 116
2. Tell a People Story, 118
3. Make It Positive, 119
4. Work Within the Culture, 122
5. Convey Ideas, Not Words, 125
6. Show, Don't Tell, 127
7. Use Humor, 128

6. STRUCTURE and Format, 130
Format Templates, 131
Voice-overs, 132
On-camera Spokesperson, 134
Interviews, 138
Documentary, 144
Genres and Parodies, 146
Comedy, 148
Specialized Formats, 158

Elements of Structure, 160
Premise - The Idea That Starts the Story, 160
Ending, 163
Central Idea/Spine, 164
Theme Line, 166
Image System, 169
Continuity/Flow, 171
Applying the Elements of Structure, 175

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The Power of Examples, 179
Aristotle's Six Elements of Drama, 180

Opsis, Melos: Sight and Sound, 181
Muthos and Dramatic Structure, 182
Ethos, Dianoia and Interesting Characters, 183
Lexis and Writing Dialogue, 189
Pitching the Creative Treatment, 196
Presentation, 199
Presentation Techniques, 200
How Many Approaches?, 201
Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable, 201

Developing the Blueprint, 202
Page Formats, 203

Thinking Visually, 211
Visual Humor, 212
Image Systems, 213
Specifics on the Screen, Abstracts on the Track, 214
Body language, 215

Painting With Sound, 216
Wordsmithing, 217
Open Strong - Go for the Jugular, 218
Grammatical Decisions, 218
Write Tight, 222
Pacing and Flow, 227
Specific Techniques, 229

Editing Your Script, 233
Pitching Your Script, 234

Rewrites and Salvage Jobs, 236
Word Changes, 236
Rewriting for Language, 237
Structural Rewrites, 238
Creative Rewrites, 239

The Corporate Environment, 241
Guaranteed Non-Failures, 242
No Dull Subjects, 243
Exploitation, 243

Ethics, 246
Just Do It, 246
Alternatives to Saying No, 248
Do They Need What They Want?, 249
Get the Bad News Out Early, 250

Legal Considerations, 251
Copyright, 251
Work for Hire, 254
Fair Use, 254

Where the Jobs Are, 255
The Business of Writing, 256

Staying Fresh, 256
Scripts Are Never Finished, 257
Working Freelance, 258

Taking Initiative, 263
Research Questions, 266
Case Study #1, 271
Case Study #2, 286
About the Author, 305
Index, 307
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Copyright © 2015, John Morley, all rights reserved