3 Tips — How I Write and Read Scripts for Voice Overs
It was 2003 and as part of my job before going freelance I would write scripts for voice overs of popular stations including Capital FM, BBC and the list goes on.
The rush of excitement of how I would envision and guide the voice over to read the text or deciding if I would read and record it myself, still pulses through my veins and there are 3 actionable tips that I would like to share from my years of experience.
Tip 1 How to Write a Script
A voice script can be interpreted in a variety of ways so it is important to ensure that you and any prospective client are both happy with the script you create.
When writing a script you can also find certain words work better for you or the voice over artist than others once you have read this back to yourself due to an accent or style of speaking. When writing your script, the right combination of words can leave a very lasting impression so it is important to get it right.
In order to write a script you will need to establish the type of scripts that you want to create.
Think about any music that will potentially go along with the voice artist or if there will be any background music or sound effects used. Simply imagine the voice that you will use or decide whether it is going to be your own and speak aloud to yourself. You will also need to think about the genre of the voice artist. For example, are they fun and energetic? Or do they have a particular accent that you want to come across? Are they authoritative, male, female, and so on.
Remember that punctuation matters. You will need to remember that in a script, every space, every capital letter, every full stop and every comma matters. For example in this statement:
“A car was parked. In the driveway”.
It could equally be read fast as, “a car was parked in the driveway”, or it could read slowly i.e. “a car was, parked in the driveway”. Alternatively it could be read with pauses i.e, “a car…. was parked… in the driveway”.
As you can see, there were very different ways of saying the same sentence. What mattered there was the punctuation marks, the comma to separate the words or the full stops to indicate dramatic or extended pauses. It makes a significant difference to the voice actor or that you yourself will follow. You can also add notes to ensure that expressions are captured.
That might be if for example there’s a happy tone, or excited tone you might just write in italics happy tone or excited tone.
Tip 2 How to Read a Script
The technique for reading a script is very similar to writing one, the most important thing to remember is how it is to be said.
As previously the main point overall is to take note of any punctuation. You may wish to add direction arrows or underlines to mark emphasis on words or parts of words known as marking scripts. You may also wish to add your own full stops or punctuation marks. In these instances you should also take note of any additional notes that have been asked like a happy tone or sad tone, or you may wish to add these yourself if you are to record this to emphasize what it is that you want to come across in the voice.
When you are reading the script you should also practice how you imagine the voice over to sound. To do this it is helpful to imagine any music you wish to appear in the background in your mind whilst you are reading the script. This helps you test what exactly you and any perspective buyer is after.
Sometimes you can pick up a page and it will just make sense when you have put some music behind it. You can do this by using free online music sites such as YouTube and other audio sites.
Just listen to the music and imagine your voice over playing on top of that music and just let it flow. From there, it will come to you. As you listen to the music just remember that there are multiple interpretations.
You should always record the interpretation you and any potential buyer is truly after i.e. your suggestion and what they actually requested in the recording side by side. Recording your lines multiple times allows both yourself and the potential client to have a choice of the best ones. For example recording “Jeff bought a car, Jeff bought a car, Jeff bought a car” multiple times allows choice for you and the client.
Sometimes the client might actually decide that they like the first way the audio was recorded, as opposed to the second or third way you have said the script. At times this might be for a number of reasons such as perhaps you have linked the words together in your speech. The client will often appreciate having the ability of choice so they can decide what they feel is best.
Tip 3 Embrace the Script
My final tip is whether you are reading to record a script or whether you are writing a script, simply embrace it and have fun.
Voice work is an amazing experience that not many people get to explore. Using your creative gifts you too can share in the amazing world of reading and writing voice overs. Dive in and voice at your strengths.
Have fun and let your voice and writing shine.