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Voiceovers


Voice-Over Articles

Tips for Directing Voiceovers

Tips for Writing for Voiceovers

Christina & the Animation  Demo, Pt. 1

Christina & the Animation  Demo, Pt. 2

Marketing On-Line

Starting a Voiceovers Business

Getting Paid for the Gig

Equipping Your Home Studio

The Future of Voiceovers

Analyze the Copy First

Why Computers Crash

A Voiceover by Any Other Name...

Finding the Rhythm in Voiceover Copy

Interview with a Voice Guy

Getting the Best Performance from Voice Over Talent

Going Global With Your Voiceovers Business

Nasal Irrigation: Clearing the Way to Better Voiceovers

Taking Care of Your Voice in a Voice Over Session

Setting Up an Affordable Home Studio: Step by Step

Stop the Stumbles - A Quick Tip for Voice Over Talents

Sending Voiceovers Using FTP

Voiceovers and Ever-Changing English

Writing Copy for Voiceovers

by Peter Drew

As with any of the performing arts, an effective voiceover begins with a well-crafted script. You don’t have to have many years of writing experience to create copy that is both effective and a pleasure for the voice actor to perform. Here are some ideas to consider before you put your pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Commericals: Radio and TV

Determine the purpose of the ad, e.g. drive traffic to a store, produce direct response inquiries, announce a grand opening, move end-of-season merchandise, etc.

Determine who your customer is and speak to that person one to one, and, ideally, present one main idea in the copy.

Use A.I.D.A.: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Get the listener’s attention to the ad; get the listener interested in what you’re offering; get the listener to want to take some action on your offer; give the listener a means to act and urge that action.

Narrations (also called “Industrials”)

For a video script, use the story board, if you have one, to guide the development of the script. This will help you time the voice over to the video’s scenes.

For audio only, where no storyboard exists, do a rough outline. This will help you create a basic logical structure before you start writing. The result will be a script that flows much better for the narrator and the intended listener.

All Scripts

Leave room for “verbal white space.” Just as a large block of densely printed copy is intimidating and difficult to read, a voice-over script that’s crammed with copy is difficult to follow and understand. A good rule of thumb for 30-second radio or TV copy is eight lines down (double-spaced), 10 words across the page. For a slower, more intimate read, go with seven lines, 10 words across. The same idea applies for a briskly paced 60-second ad: 16 lines down, 10 words across. For a slower pace, 14 lines, 10 words across. This 60-second guideline is helpful in timing long-form scripts, too. Just count the pages and you have the total number of minutes.

Numbers are words, so be sure to consider them in your word count. A phone number, such as 1-860-291-9476, is eleven words. That’s more than one entire line of copy!  Try spelling out numbers as words to get a good handle on the actual length of your copy. For example:

1-860-291-9476,

when typed or written out, is

one-eight-six-oh, two-nine-one, nine-four-seven-six.

You can see how long the line really is when the numbers are spelled out. Then, after you’re ready to print your final draft, convert the words back to numbers.

Write for the ear, not the eye. Construct short, conversational sentences, with natural breaks for taking a breath. This is especially helpful to narrators when they voice technical or medical copy, which contains large, complicated, and difficult-to-pronounce terms.

Read your copy out loud, just as you intend the voice talent to read it, and time it.  Then adjust your copy accordingly for timing.

Try to write in the active voice, not passive voice. This is a passive construction: “When writing a script, be sure you’re saying some exciting things, or else you’ll be losing the attention of the listener.” Instead, use the active voice, structured something like this: “When you write a script, say something exciting, or you’ll lose the listener’s attention.” Active voice is more conversational and easier for the ear and mind to follow.

Happy writing!

© Peter Drew, 2005

Peter Drew, a freelance voice-over talent and copywriter/producer with decades of experience, is heard on radio and television stations, corporate presentations, web sites, and messages-on-hold across America and countries around the world. To send an email regarding this article, please visit Peter Drew Voiceovers.

You are welcome to publish this article electronically or in print, as long as it is published in its entirety, along with the resource box, including active link, above. Thank you.

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Peter Drew Voiceovers, voice over talent,  is a worldwide provider of voice-overs for radio commercials; TV commercials; radio imaging and promos; TV imaging and promos; video games; and industrials, including narration of new media, phone prompts, and message on hold, with same-day delivery by ISDN or MP3 via the Internet.  Copyright 2008 Peter Drew Voiceovers E. Hartford CT 06108         

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