“Can you write a video script?”

“Sure,” I lied. “No problem.”

(In my early 20s and in the grip of my first ad agency job, it’s possible I was an utter moron.)

I banged out something brilliant and proudly handed the script to the director.

I waited for the amazed gasps to sound.

They didn’t.

I hadn’t formatted the script (a real novice tell), and the concept of integrating the words and images had largely eluded me (as did an “aha!” moment).

In terms of length, I’d written the marketing video equivalent of a brooding Russian novel.

It’s wasn’t my finest moment as a copywriter.

Fortunately, I got better at it (the director handed me a stack of scripts, explained the basics, and introduced me to a real script writer).

Still, I never wrote more than a couple video scripts a year, and today – more than seven years since I wrote my last script – a client is sniffing around the idea of a video series.

Clearly, I don’t have time to write it (hell, I haven’t even finished my marketing website).

Clearly it’s not part of my current business plan.

Clearly it’s not a “core competency.”

And clearly, I’m doing it anyway. (I committed to writing the first two scripts.)

I guess you don’t have to be smart to be in love.

Now For The Writing Part

Video scripts require specialized formatting, and I remember wrestling with that in prior script writing efforts.

In short, I was dreading the actual writing of the scripts.

Then I stumbled across Celtx — free scriptwriting software which runs on Windows, Mac & Linux.

Celtx media production software

Celtx is free, and pretty damn nice.

(They charge for their Studio version, which looks a lot like screenwriting software mated to version control software.)

Celtx offers script templates for screenplays (movies, TV, etc), novels, plays, comic books, audio scripts and audio-visual projects.

Happily, the audio-visual template offers the side-by-side formatting used by most commercial videos.

Side-by-side script formatting

Celtx offers an A/V script editor

It’s much better than my fussy word processor template. In fact, it’s downright easy.

Without even a break-in period, I wrote two sample scenes for the client, formatted them in double-column format, and created a pdf.

Ahhh. I likey writing tools that let you focus on the writing.

The Rationalization

Sometimes you do things for reasons of fun or sanity instead of revenues or career (or maybe you watched too many Project Greenlight DVDs).

This appears to be one of those times.

I’ll get my website finished later.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.

Scriptwriting Resources For Writers

First, a helpful hint: TV and movie screenplay formats are very different from the side-by-side A/V (or documentary) format used for corporate videos and screencasts. Don’t confuse the two.

If you want to know more about writing video scripts, consider buying Scriptwriting for High-Impact Videos..

Looking for a free video script resource? Try this web page: “Elements of the Video Script.”

Scriptwriting Software

Celtx (free) screenplay/storyboard/production software (runs on Windows, Mac & Linux)

Here’s a video which gives you a quick overview of the Celtx A/V script module.

Celtx website

Ever wanted to write scripts (or hell, want to throw down in the hyper-competitive screenplay worlds?)

Final Draft (the leading commercial software for screenwriters (most corporate folks will want the Final Draft AV version – $149

Scrivener Software (Not exactly script writing software, but has a script mode, and Mac users seem to love it (Windows and Linux versions are just now in beta)

Adobe Story (new web-based screenwriting/production product

Keep writing, Tom Chandler


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