Week 3 (24/2): Formatting a script

young women with mics making an audio story or podcast
Photo: Kate Oseen on Unsplash

BY CAZ ADAMS

Recap Week #2

Last week you wrote a short audio story about Sydney using 3 Act Structure.

It was then time to use 3 Act Structure to write up your idea for an Audio story/podcast.

Soon you’ll be recording your story/podcast, so it’s time to format it in an easy-to-read and clear manner.

Formatting a script for Audio Recording

      • Use a simple, easy-to-read font.
      • Make sure it is a large enough size that you can read it when either holding it in your hand (without hitting the mic) or placed on a music stand.
      • Keep sentences fairly short. When recording – the longer they are the more chance you have of running out of breath, losing your delivery or “fluffing” a word.
      • Double spaced lines make it easier to read. Plus if you need to make any changes/mark up the script with a pen, there will be room to do so.
      • Keep paragraphs short. Better to have a lot of short paragraphs than a huge one that looks terrifying when you come to voice it.
      • Don’t staple pages together. When you turn a page the mic will pick up the sound.

KEEP IN MIND:

Leave a lot of white on the page – it’s so much easier to read, deliver and mark up.

NARRATION / VOICES

If you are the only voice on your audio story you don’t need to add Host/Narrator.

But if there are two hosts – put their name before the section that they will record.

Podcast Script – Co-hosts

KAREN:  I’m really excited about this week’s subject – car racing

 GAVIN:  Yeah me too, Karen. Let’s face it, I’m a bit of a rev head.

Audio Feature Script – Various Characters

NARRATOR: The strange disappearance of Jarrod Henley. It was 28th of August 1995 when 30-year-old mail courier, Jarrod, set out to follow an old gold miner’s trail to an isolated cabin in the Pine Tree Ranges. Though it was bitingly cold, the skies were bright blue and the wind was calm. An experienced hiker, Jarrod had told his wife that he’d be back before sunset. But when night fell Jarrod hadn’t returned home and his wife soon realised that something had gone terribly wrong.

WIFE: (distraught) Jarrod’s really fit and resourceful but at night in the bush, who knows what could happen? I just hope they find him soon.

POLICEWOMAN: The search started within hours but we had to stop when heavy rain flooded the area. It was just too dangerous.

Adding SFX & MUSIC to a script

Once your script is formatted as to who says what, it’s time to include the audio/sounds that will add more life/colour to it and help paint a visual picture in the listeners’ minds.

Podcast

MUSIC:   Opening theme music – fade in/fade out under Karen opening line.

KAREN:  I’m really excited about this week’s subject – car racing.

SFX:   Car revving – then lower it under Gavin

GAVIN:   Yeah me too, Karen. Let’s face it, I’m a bit of a rev head.

SFX:   Car revs louder and speeds off. Loud.

Audio Feature

MUSIC: Opening theme music or Mysterious music – Fade under

NARRATOR: The strange disappearance of Jarrod Henley. It was 28th of August 1995 when 30-year-old mail courier, Jarrod, set out after breakfast to follow a trail to an old isolated gold miner’s cabin in the Pine Tree Ranges.

SFX:  Birds tweeting

MUSIC:  Pleasant, easy going, adventurous – keep low under …

NARRATOR:  Though it was bitingly cold, the skies were bright blue and the wind was calm. An experienced hiker, Jarrod had told his wife that he’d be back before sunset. But in the afternoon the weather deteriorated …

SFX:  Wind blowing, leaves rustling, light rain falling – continue all under

NARRATOR:  …. But when night fell Jarrod hadn’t returned home and his wife soon realised that something had gone terribly wrong.

SFX:  Home sounds – baby crying, radio /TV weather report (Storm approaching)

WIFE: (distraught) Jarrod’s really fit and resourceful but at night in the bush, who knows what could happen? I just hope they find him soon.

POLICEWOMAN: The search started within hours but we had to stop when a storm broke and heavy rain flooded the area …

SFX:  Rain heavier / louder, thunder – continue under …

POLICEWOMAN: It was too dangerous.

SFX:  Rain louder, water gushing, wind roaring, screeching night bird, thunder

 MUSIC:   Mysterious

 Note: As mentioned above, double spaced lines make it easier to read. Plus if you need to make any changes/mark up the script with a pen, there will be room to do so.

Formatting Interview Questions

Put a heading INTERVIEW QUESTIONS or INTERVIEW – JANE CITIZEN (The name of the person/persons you are interviewing) before your list of questions.

Even if in the edit you’re intending on placing the answers throughout the story, for ease of recording, it’s best to put them all together at the end of the script.  

Write up each question you will be asking. Number them 1) 2) 3)  or 1. 2. 3. or a) b) c) etc. Numbering them allows everyone (your interviewee, producer and yourself) to know which question you are referring to. It may also help in the edit.

Numbering also helps if you are interviewing various people about the same subject. You can choose which questions you will ask each person and just list the question numbers to refer to.

Dave: 2, 5, 6

Sarah: 1, 2, 4

Carlo: 3, 4, 5, 6

Keep questions fairly short

If you ask a long multi-part question the interviewee can get confused and not give you an answer that you can use. It can also be frustrating to them.

So this is too long and too confusing:

Q: How old were you, where were you and what were you doing when you first realised that competing in breaststroke in the 200 metres medley in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021 was your ultimate dream?

Better to ask a series of short to-the-point questions.

Q 1: How old were you when you realised that competing in the Olympics was your dream?

Q 2: Where were you?

Q 3: What were you doing at the time?

Q 4: Why breaststroke and why the 200 metre medley?

Q 5: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed due to Covid-19. Are you training for the Olympics in 2021?

Now some questions may evoke an answer to the next question or cover a few questions.

Q 2: Where were you?

A: I was swimming in a school carnival and I won the breaststroke. The blue ribbon. It felt so good that I wanted to win more.

Now that answer included an answer to Q 3: What were you doing at the time?

So don’t ask that question, skip it.

Plus it mentioned the style of swimming (breaststroke) so you need to adjust Q 4: Why breaststroke and why the 200 metre medley? Something like this:

Q 4: Why not an individual event? Why did you choose the 200 metre medley?

NOTE: After the interview, there is no need to write the answers in the script (unless a producer asks you to do so).  

Timing a script 

You have to deliver your audio at the specified durations set out in the Subject Guide.

Podcast:  8-10 minutes

Audio feature: 5-8 minutes

This means you need to time it before recording it.

screenshot of a phone stopwatch used as a timer
Use your phone to time your script. Screenshot: Caz Adams

Use the stopwatch on your phone to time your script. But don’t read it silently to yourself because when we read it to ourselves we speak faster than we do when recording it and the timing won’t be accurate.

So read it out loud, at the level of voice you will use when recording on a microphone. This should give you a fairly accurate timing.

You can talk through the music and SFX timings as you are timing it or talk through them afterwards and add that time to your script timing. 

 TASK

 Even if your script is not yet finalised, use a section of it and write in Music and SFX.

If SFX or Music needs to come in the middle of some dialogue, remember to reformat the dialogue (as in the example above).

Once you’ve done that, ask yourself it there are more SFX or Music that could bring it to life. If so, add them.

NOTE: Having all the Music and SFX listed in the script will give you (the Producer) a clear understanding of what level of performance is required at each point of the script.

Moving forward with your Podcast/Audio Feature 

Part 1

Once you’ve finalised your script, do this whole process with the entire script.

This will make it so much easier for you to gather the music and SFX (on the Student Drive) before the edit.

Having all audio organised, will save you a heap of time and frustration during the edit.

      1. Now open your Word doc named Research/Notes.
      2. Add a new heading at the bottom: Editing Notes
      3. Underneath add 2 more headings: Music and SFX
      4. Under each heading list all the music styles and the SFX that you have just written in your script.

* This list of SFX and Music in your Research/Notes doc will form part of your Audio assessment.*

Part 2

      1. Open your Word doc named – Script
      2. Add a new heading at the bottom: Interview Questions
      3. Under that write your questions.

* These questions are part of your Script which will form part of your Audio assessment.*

Author: veritychambers

Journalist and teacher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.