Scripting Frameworks

My 4-step scriptwriting method for millions of views

September 1st, 2023



min read

Does this resonate with you…?

“I hate writing; I love having written.” – Dorothy Parker.

It certainly struck a chord with me.

That’s not to say that writing a YouTube script is actually a miserable process.

But the build-up to a writing session is often fraught with anxiety.

And that anxiety either leads to procrastination or to such a degree of overthinking that when I sit down, I barely make progress.

“Where do I start? What should I work on today? Am I even good at this?” (Classic.)

But I’ve managed to significantly reduce these feelings by systemising how I write.

I promise you – systemising your writing will make scripting YouTube videos less stressful, more efficient, and will result in a better piece of content.

If you came here from my recent appearance on Jay Clouse’s Creator Science – welcome! If not, I discussed the system in this video 👇

Click to watch, or read on for a summary…

Let’s talk about…

The 4-Hat Method

This is an upgraded version of the 3-Hat Method I first discussed 6 months ago.

The basic principle is that we want to avoid “task switching”.

That means breaking the process of writing the script down into 4 distinct components.

Let’s think of each component as a “different profession”.

And you’re only ever wearing one of these “hats” at a time.

The first hat is…

The Artist

You have your basic video concept.

Now you need to spam ideas to see if there’s enough meat to make the video work.

Brainstorm any moments you instinctively imagine appearing in the video.

This might include half-formed B-Roll ideas and visual cues, as well as key story/information beats.

The only essential part of this stage is identifying the “Grand Payoff” – the main thing your audience has clicked to see.

Use my 4-point checklist to make this super simple.

Once this is done, it’s time to become…

The Architect

This is where we bring structure to the script before actually writing it.

We have our Grand Payoff locked in.

So now we need to identify the necessary steps that build up to that moment.

In a tutorial, these may be obvious:

“Step 1, step 2…”

In an entertainment video, it might take more thinking.

“Here’s my bombastic aim, but first I needed to find a big hammer. So I was on my way to visit the local hammer salesperson when THIS happened…”

Each beat should open up its own curiosity gap. And, as you resolve each point of curiosity, you set up the next one.

Tension, release, setup, tension, release, setup…

Ergo, we need to know what each of these key “mini-payoffs” will be while we’re wearing the architect’s hat.

By the end of your time as the Architect, you should have your structure finalised.

The Writer

Now it’s time to connect the dots.

If the structure was your script’s skeleton, this is where we add the flesh.

An important thing to bring back at this stage is an element of the freedom you felt as the Artist.

For example, don’t worry about retention at this stage.

Nor perfect grammar, nor anything else.

The sole aim is to connect A to B to C.

By the end of this stage, you’ll have what most people would refer to as “Draft 0”.

It’s nothing like perfect, but it’s a complete package.

So, we have our Draft 0, and now it’s time to don the fourth (and pointiest) hat…

The Wizard

It’s time to fine-tune your script.

And, once again, the key here is to focus on one thing at a time.

I comb through my scripts with the following in mind:

  1. Excessive jargon.
  2. Imperfect structure.
  3. Grammar.
  4. Verbal test.

The first check, “excessive jargon”, is where I think about clarity, checking I’m not repeating myself, or taking 2 sentences to say what I could have in 1.

The third check, “Grammar”, is self-explanatory.

The fourth check, “verbal test”, means reading it aloud to check if it actually flows when spoken aloud.

But the one that needs the most explanation is the second check, “imperfect structure”.

This is about retention, and there are a tonne of things you could focus on here. For example…

  • I check how well-spaced out my payoffs are.
  • I ensure I haven’t given away an interesting nugget and then spent 5 minutes discussing it.
  • I confirm there’s a constant progression of information.

Again, lots to think about here, so feel free to join the YTSP waiting list if you’re interested in learning more.

Either way, breaking down the process of scripting a video into these 4 stages will make your life much easier 🧘‍♂️

That’s all for this week!

Another big welcome to any new subscribers who found me through Creator Science!

Hit reply if you have any questions 😊

Speak soon,

George 👋

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