Like any video project, the best place to start when creating an animated video is on paper.  A solid script is essential to saving time (and money) and preventing confusion later in the process. In this blog, we’ll cover in detail the essential steps to creating a script for animation. But first…

What Is a Script?

Starting with the basics is important. So, what is a script, and why is it important for animation? Simply put, a script is a written document that outlines a story’s plot, characters, and dialogue. It is also the foundation for the entire project, providing a roadmap for the animators, voice actors, and other creatives involved in the production process, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same vision.

Now that we understand the importance of a script let’s dive into the process of creating one.

Creating a Script for Animation

Step 1: Choose a Story

The first step in creating a script for animation is choosing a story. This may seem obvious, but it’s an important step that sets the foundation for the rest of the process. You can choose to adapt an existing story or create something entirely new. The key is choosing a story you are passionate about that will resonate with your audience.

When selecting a story, consider the following:

  • Genre: What genre do you want your animation to be? Is it a comedy, drama, action, or something else entirely?
  • Target audience: Who is your target audience? Is it children, adults, or a specific demographic? Knowing this information will determine how you convey your message.
  • Theme: What universal message do you want your animation to convey? How do you want your audience to feel?
  • Characters: Who are the main characters in your story? What are their personalities, goals, and motivations? Remember, because you are working with animation, they can be anything.
  • Environment: Where do you want your animation to take place? Again, because you are working with animation, it can be anywhere.
  • Plot: What happens to the characters of your story in your plot? Before you start animating, confirm that your plot has a proper story arch with a beginning, middle, and end and enough conflict to keep the viewer interested.

Once you have a general idea of the story you want to tell, it’s time to start fleshing out even more of the details and creating an outline for the vision. 

Step 2: Create an Outline

Before you start writing the script, creating an outline is a good idea. An outline is a roadmap for your story, a storyboard of sorts, providing a clear structure and direction for your script.

When creating an outline, consider the following:

  • Act structure: Generally speaking, most stories follow a three-act structure. Act 1 sets up the story, Act 2 presents obstacles and conflicts, and Act 3 provides a resolution

    Your goal is to determine the key events that will occur in each act
  • Plot points: Plot points are the major events that drive the story forward. Determine the key plot points in your story and where they will occur in the script.
  • Characters: Determine how the key characters in your story will develop over the course of the story.
  • Theme: Determine the key themes in your story and how and when they will be explored.

Once you have a solid outline, you can start writing the actual script.

Step 3: Write the Script

Now it’s time to start writing the script! When your story’s plot, theme, characters, and entire structure come together, it’s like magic. When writing a script, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Formatting: Make sure your script is properly formatted. Several software programs and templates available online can help with this. The goal with formatting is to make it easy for everyone to grasp the different phases and clearly identify character changes along with the animations for each segment. 
  • Dialogue: Dialogue is a key component of any script. Make sure your dialogue is engaging, realistic, and true to your characters’ personalities.
  • Action: Remember that animation is a visual medium. Include plenty of visual descriptions and action in your script to help bring your story to life. Note there will be different versions of one script. Do your best with the first draft, but know that the first draft will not be the last. 
  • Pacing: Keep the pacing of your script in mind. A good script should have a good balance of action, dialogue, and description, a consistent pace, and not overwhelming information. Every detail should be easy to grasp. 
  • Length: A typical animated TV show episode is around 22 minutes long, a feature film is usually around 90 minutes, and a video production segment for social media is typically no longer than 2 minutes. Keep your script’s length in mind and ensure it fits within the appropriate time frame for your intended medium.

As you write, it’s important to remember that animation allows for limitless creativity. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and include fantastical elements or surreal visuals that may not be possible in live-action storytelling. The key is to push the boundaries and effectively align with your client’s needs and goals. 

Step 4: Refine and Revise

Remember, we mentioned your first draft will not be your last?! Now that you’ve completed your first draft, it’s time to refine and revise your script. This is where you’ll fine-tune the details and ensure your story is as strong as possible.

When revising your script, consider the following:

  • Character development: Make sure your characters are fully fleshed out and have clear motivations and goals. No confusion included. 
  • Dialogue: Read your dialogue aloud to ensure it sounds natural and flows well. No stumbling. 
  • Pacing: Check your script’s pacing to ensure it keeps the audience engaged and interested. You want the script to continue to engage your audience. 
  • Theme: Are your themes easy to grasp? Share your script with colleagues or friends to ensure your content is easy to understand and not just for you! 
  • Visuals: Make sure your visual descriptions are clear and concise and they effectively convey each scene’s action and emotion. Visuals are the appeal but they should make sense to get the most from your messaging. 

Be open to feedback on your script from trusted sources. Consider sharing your script with other writers, animators, or industry professionals who can provide constructive criticism and feedback.

Step 5: Finalize the Script

Yay, you are almost there. Once you’ve refined and revised your script, it’s time to finalize it. This means making any final tweaks and ensuring it’s ready to be used as a blueprint for the animation production process. It will feel like you may be repeating the same action as above, which you are a bit, but think of it being the last time, so you want to make sure everything is perfect. 

When finalizing your script, consider the following:

  • Formatting: Make sure your script is properly formatted and adheres to industry standards.
  • Length: Double-check the length of your script to ensure it fits within the appropriate time frame for your intended medium.
  • Character arcs: Make sure each character has a clear arc and that their story is fully developed.
  • Dialogue: Ensure the dialogue is engaging, realistic, and true to your characters’ personalities.
  • Action: Make sure the action in your script is clear and effectively conveys the emotion and intention of each scene.

With all the details and steps that go into animation, it is easy to see that creating a script is crucial in the animation process. By following these essential steps, you’ll be able to develop a strong narrative, memorable characters, a visually interesting setting, engaging dialogue, and a detailed storyboard. A well-written script will make your animation more engaging for your audience and will ultimately make your animated masterpiece a success. 

We’d love to help you develop the perfect video project for your brand and the animation that shapes it. To learn more about Bottle Rocket Media’s video production services and other services like motion graphics services, connect with us to start your video project.