In 1946, George Orwell wrote a short essay entitled ‘Politics and the English
Language’. In it he laid out his six key rules for writing.
Anyone setting out to write a script for a business video today or a brand
seeking to commission a video, could do worse than taking a look at Orwell’s
For the sake of this blog, we’ve amended his rules to bring them up to date and
make them more relevant to video production. So here it goes..(or is it here
1 – ‘Never use a metaphor or simile that you’re used to seeing in print’. Video
scripts are more like radio scripts, they are written to be read out. So try to
make your script conversational and avoid using language that you wouldn’t use
during a conversation with a colleague or friend. Cliches are also best avoided (like the plague?).
One top tip from this broadcast industry professional is to read your script out
aloud. If you trip over certain phrases or sentences then your script is too
flowery and is in need of a rewrite.
2 – ‘Never use a long word when a short word will do’. And, ‘if it’s possible to
cut out a word, then cut it out’. Remember that less is often best (I know, I
know, a cliche) for corporate videos. Allowing an interviewee to tell a
company’s story is way more effective and powerful means of getting your message
across than having a voiceover blathering on.
3 – ‘Never use passive language when you can use active’. Try writing your video
script in the present or future tense as it tends make the film feel fresher,
more immediate and less historical. The past tense is a better fit for novels
and print articles.
4 – ‘ Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can
think of an everyday English equivalent’. Many B2B videos are created for
specialist audiences but we recommend that all films should be written with a
general audience in mind. Don’t assume too much knowledge and always explain
acronyms and jargon in layman’s terms.
5 – Finally, show don’t tell. It’s obvious really but words should always
complement pictures. Your script should be used to explain what is happening on
the screen. As George Orwell would have said if he was still around ‘if you’re
film is lacking in decent footage, then consider using on-screen graphics’.
So next time you’re writing or commissioning a script for a business video, try
following the above rules and you’ll be happy as Larry with the results..ahem.