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Script Writing for Radio and TV

If you’re script writing for radio and TV, and you’re going to be working with a voice actor, I have some great tips to solve a common problem.

That problem?  Running over time on your reads.

Now, if you have the experience to avoid this concern, great!  But a lot of my clients are small business owners, production companies and marketing agencies, and this issue is common across the board.  So, if you’re on a tight thirty or sixty second frame (for radio or TV, for instance), and you’re providing a script, try the following three things when you hire a voice actor:

Time your scripts in the style you expect to hear.

1.  If you want the best read and most accurate time, time-out your script after you’ve written it.  Do this by reading it out-loud, in the style (or as close to the style and cadence) you expect of the final version.  You may not be entirely accurate, but you’ll be far more accurate than if you read it in half-hushed whispers or (even worse) read it silently.  The most accurate way to time your script is to have your voice actor read and time out the script to make sure it affords them the time to perform in the style you’re hiring.

2.  If you’re still not sure about the length of the read, give clear instructions on what your voice actor can insert or remove to make time.  If you’ve done step one, your voice actor shouldn’t need to change anything.  But, knowing which words or lines can be removed or added will save time (and money) in changing your script and re-recording.  If your voice actor isn’t providing the finished audio, it can be beneficial to have them give you two reads at two paces.  Some voice actors don’t handle production, so this can be important in providing your production company with the takes needed to make time as well.

3.  Understand that one style or tone can time out far longer or shorter than another.  For instance, a script read in a heart-felt narrator style will time out at thirty-eight seconds, whereas a casual, natural read would clock in at thirty.  What makes your read special or unique is the style – and if you approach your script with style in mind, you may have to sacrifice content.  Again, it’s far better to work this out before recording (and studio charges).

Doing these three things may not guarantee clear sailing with no issues regarding script length, but you’ll remove some of the biggest hurdles your voice actor faces in delivering what you want in a timely fashion.