Writing for the Ear: Make it short and simple

Our “Writing for the Ear” lecture was quite conveniently placed on the course schedule just before I was going to submit my short video and begin working on my TV news-style video. As I am preparing to begin editing video and, most likely, go out to film some more, I decided to gather more sources on the subject of writing with the idea that people will be hearing the words, not reading them, in mind to supplement what we learned from the Sarah Hill video.

The basics I gathered from KOMU’s Sarah Hill:

-Use active voice

-Match the tone of the voice track to the tone of the subject

-Don’t end on a sound bite unless it makes a big impact

-Marry the voice/script to the video (match visuals to what is being said)

I found many other sites and blogs, including this resource from the University of Washington’s “Basic Concepts of New Media” course, that lay out basic techniques to use when writing for audio (whether radio or TV). While some of the tips would change a bit from site to site, there were two that were consistent throughout: use active voice and keep sentences short.

I tend to be pretty wordy. I am a big proponent of commas and appositive phrases, often packing as many as possible into a single sentence. This has long been my writing style, which can be great (or, at the very least, understandable) in reading, less so for listening. So, in writing my script for my TV news style video, I am going to focus on keeping it simple. Basic facts. Active verb. Simple sentences.

The other aspect I want to focus on in putting this project together is what Sarah Hill called “marrying” the script to the video. That is, an interviewee talks about something and the film on screen matches. I’m foreseeing this as being the most difficult part of the project for me, even more so than cutting out all my commas. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I had quite a bit of difficulty capturing quality footage, especially close-ups, of the CoMo Derby Dames at practice. I intend to return to practice this week with a video camera to get more clips of the action. I am going to keep what the subjects of my interviews talked about at the forefront of my mind while filming. This will hopefully allow me to spot and capture specific actions rather than trying to film anything and everything in the hopes that something will work for the final video. From there, the goal will be to take those specific shots I filmed and marry them with the audio from the interviews and then add my active, short and simple narration to round out the story.



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