10 Storytelling tips for script writers with tough clients
"Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell”
– Seth Godin.
Before I get into the topic of 10 storytelling tips, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about your clients - All clients are tough. There are no generous clients. The same way there are no Unicorns. And if you believe in Unicorns, then I'm sorry, this article is not for you. But if you don’t, then congratulate yourself for being part of the rare 2% of sensible human beings of this planet and move forward.
Script writing a business that makes you a businessman, and your clients the customers. And your customers are the reason why you're in the business. So it is basic common sense to understand that it is your clients that make or break you. But how to deal with them? Simple. Give them what they want. If they want a good story, then give them a good story. But how do you do that? Well, read on.
1. Tell a STORY.
If only it were that simple. Most of you out there today don’t tell a story. Rather, you are interested in marketing your storytelling skills. In doing so, you forget the important thing - the STORY. We know that you have storytelling capabilities, in fact, anyone who can speak can tell a story. But how different are you from everyone is what matters. And only a good story can do that.
2. Steal a LOT and become a good storyteller.
“ I steal from every movie ever made” - Quentin Tarantino.
Make the story engaging and creative. Everyone tells creativity is an inborn talent. That’s just a big fat lie. Creativity can be cultivated through practice. So read and write a lot. Don’t be afraid to copy from the work of others. By copy, I don’t mean CTRL+V. By copy, I mean get inspired. There is nothing wrong to convey another person’s idea in your own way (as long as you give him the credits, it's all fine). So steal a lot from your favourite creators. And from that you can create a unique style for yourself. That’s the easiest way to become a better creator.
3. No! You’re not George R.R. Martin.
Yes, that’s right. You will not become the next GRRM (Unless you are living in caves, GRRM is the author of The Song of Ice and Fire, which is now adapted into the blockbuster TV serial, Game of thrones). Folks, you are not writing a script for the next James Cameron epic (though you can be sure that someday you might if you are creative enough), so KEEP IT SHORT. The shorter the better, because nobody has time. If you want to survive in this unforgiving and competitive world, you need to be bang on target.
4. Features, blah, blah, blah. Tell me about the benefits.
When you are writing a script for your client about their product, talk about the benefits and not the features. Here is an example for you, during the Apple iPad Keynote speech, Steve Jobs spoke about how the iPad can slide into your pockets, how one can keep it on their cheeks after hours of usage and still not feel the heat. He talked about the benefits of the product without going overboard on the new features. Now, that is how you do business. You must be interested in the benefits like your customer, and not the features.
5. Find a unique voice.
You need to create a style for yourself and try to reflect that style in every work you do. You might ask (You should) what happened to the previously mentioned idea about the importance of one’s client’s preference while writing a script. I’m not disagreeing with that. I’m just saying a unique voice is a balance between what the clients want and also your own vision. It is important to create a style since it is that style that is going to take you a long way and convince your clients that YOU can have a better vision of the script than others especially your clients.
6. Not all audience want the same thing.
I can’t emphasise on this more. Your audiences are tough. They all have their own interests and tastes. It so happens often that the only way to satisfy them is to give them exactly what they want. Therefore, you need to understand your audience's mindset. You may often encounter a situation where for the same idea, two clients would want two different tones. Therefore, it is necessary to know your audience and their tastes. A thorough background check on them and what they want will equip you with the necessary approach.
7. Why so serious?
People often get confused between the ‘serious’ and the idea of being professional. Being professional doesn’t mean being serious. By that, I don’t mean, you should write a script for the next Adam Sandler movie (BTW, I like Adam Sandler. I think he makes weirdly funny movies). A little humor in your script is not gonna hurt anybody. In fact, it will only help you gain more views. People need a good chuckle every now and then, and if you are able to convey your message while doing that, then you’re the boss!
8. You’re writing script for a video and not a novel.
You need to understand that your videos are videos. So even when you’re trying to make an explainer video, keep the text to the minimum and let the visual do the talking. Make your script less dialog oriented and focus more on the action frontier.
9. The Superhero theory.
Do you know the Superhero theory? The Superhero theory states that all world problems can be eradicated by one product. That’s how the corporate marketing business works. “Our product can do everything”, that’s the tagline of almost everything that is out there on the market. Don’t do that. Don’t cheat people. Faking might give you a sudden ascent in the profit ladder, but it’s not gonna work on a long term basis. Do not manipulate your objective. State your objective very clearly when you write a script.
10. Watch a lotta videos.
For reference purposes, you know. Also, they’re a lotta fun.
P.S. So if you have successfully reached the end, and think what I said was utter nonsense, then please feel free to drag me to a corner and beat me to death. On the contrary, if you think that I made some valuable points, then please feel free to add some more if you have any.