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What Makes a Good Scriptwriter?

April 15, 2021

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What Makes a Good Scriptwriter?

When researching how to hire a good scriptwriter, the first question to ask yourself is what type of script do you need?

Scripts encompass varying degrees of detail, and the more niche or technical the subject, the more skilled a scriptwriter you will need. The genre and medium also vastly affects the kind of scriptwriter you hire.

We have a blog that details scripting methods with consideration to genre and medium: 5 Methods of Voice-Over Scripting Explained.

Most of the scriptwriter’s skill is in how they correctly format and structure a script. In the TV and film business, a script is essentially a set of instructions that brief the director, crew, actors, post-production engineers, and the rest of the production team on how the show or film’s story unfolds.

The execution of the script is down to the individual director. For this reason, a scriptwriter writing for TV would not include shot angles or scoring details—the director and composer decide this independently.

In contrast, a radio scriptwriter will include brief auditory cues to tell the radio script’s story.

 

What about scripting voice-over, then?

In the voice-over world, scriptwriters work a bit differently. The script’s function remains the same; it is a set of instructions to tell a brand or product story.

When scripting voice-over content for corporate video, the work’s very nature means that you will need to give more consideration to the target demographic and message than a TV or film script would.

 

Voice artist reading a good voice-over script in studio boothe.

What makes a good TV or film scriptwriter won’t necessarily translate well to the voice-over industry and vice versa. Scriptwriters for voice-over share more in common with writers of radio shows and podcasts.

In the business world, most scriptwriters will have a specialty subject, e.g. medical/healthcare scriptwriting. Experienced corporate video producers or ad execs are versed in many industries and adapt to writing any script type.

Anyone writing a voice-over script will want to thoroughly understand the brand, product/service, and message goals before they begin.

A scriptwriter that seeks to educate themselves about your objectives is critical.

 

How important is creativity in scriptwriting?

One thing that is fundamentally, universally required in any scriptwriting process is emotional intelligence and creativity.

No matter the industry, script type, subject, medium, or genre—creativity goes hand-in-hand with what makes someone a subjectively ‘good’ writer. Without imagination, a scriptwriter may struggle to convey a memorable message that meets all the campaign goals. Finding fresh ways of saying the same old things by using unique perspectives is critical.

In a sense, what defines a ‘good’ scriptwriter from a ‘bad’ scriptwriter is the writer’s ability to express dull concepts as exciting events. However, creativity tends to differ from person to person and relies heavily on a person’s unique creative flare.

In this sense, an objectively ‘bad’ scriptwriter would be someone that is not familiar with the grammar structure or language they are writing. What also makes a scriptwriter an objectively ‘bad’ scriptwriter could be that the scriptwriter’s experience or unique creative flare may not be suitable for the product or brand message.

A good scriptwriter knows how best to apply their unique creative flair to a script whilst maintaining brand style and tone.

 

What things should I look for in a scriptwriter, then?

You should look for the following when considering if you should hire a scriptwriter or not:

  • Their grasp of the language. Always try to find native speakers, as they will understand linguistic nuances that second language speakers won’t. It is also important to note that languages spoken natively may not be written natively—for example, Hindi, or Urdu, which are challenging to write and easier to speak when learning.
  • Relevant professional or educational experience. Understanding the structure of scripts and industry terminology is essential for consistency’s sake. Professional expertise will breed familiarity with the subject matter to provide more detailed and nuanced messages.
  • Curiosity and investigatory skills. A good scriptwriter will seek to understand your story and how you want it told. They will seek to learn about your goals, aims, motivations, and target audiences in order to write a script appropriate to your needs. Part of being a ‘good’ scriptwriter is balancing their creative vision; to best portray your creative vision.

The above is by no means a definitive list, but in my own experience as a professional writer by trade, these are vital aspects to keep at the forefront of your mind. It will ultimately come down to you to determine if a scriptwriter is good for you and your project, but this list is a solid place to start thinking about who will match your needs.

 

In Summary

Scriptwriting is a skill anyone can develop, and there is no objective ‘golden standard’ that exists. And like all creative industries, what makes a professional excellent or downright awful is highly subjective outside the assessable traits like spelling, grammar, and sentence structure.

So, to summarize, you should look for:

  • A writer with past educational or professional experience with examples available for review.
  • A writer that seeks to understand you, your brand, or product, and your goals.
  • A writer that is a native speaker of the language your script is to be written in
  • Ideally, industry experts, particularly important for niches, as ‘good’ cross-industry writers are a rarity. An example could be in-depth financial writing.

Sourcing the right scriptwriter can be a difficult task that you shouldn’t hurry. At the core of every brand or product promotion, or fictional story, is a hard-working scriptwriter itching to tell the best story they can in the most creative way they know.

 


Further Reading:

Article contributors:

  • Writer: Stewart Storrar
  • Editor: Al Black