Let’s Make a Book Trailer — Part 4

Let's Make a Book Trailer Part 4

Hello everyone, (ok, hi, mom!) and welcome back to my series on making a book trailer.

Previous parts are here:  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

As with the previous posts, the content following are merely my thoughts on the trailer construction process.  Feel free to use or snort with derision.

Today’s post is on book trailer scripting.

First, though, a brief recap of our trailer constraints:

  • We’re creating a “Teaser” trailer
  • Using PowerPoint only
  • No video, music, animation or voice overs
  • Working with stock images or some commissioned images

These constraints force us to craft more of a book trailer slideshow, but future posts will show how to increase its sophistication by using various tools.

Now, on with today’s post:


Scripting traditionally refers to narration or words spoken by actors in a movie, play, or traditional movie/TV trailer.  It can include displayed text as well, though this is usually of minor importance.

Scripting in book trailers refers primarily to narration and displayed text, if for no other reason than the expense of sourcing actors and re-creating scenes from the story.  In a trailer with no audio, such as the one I’m creating, scripting refers entirely to displayed text.

The script supports and enhances the visuals used in the trailer and as such is bound tightly to the trailer’s structure.    Thus, before starting the script you should have at least a rough idea of:

  1. Your trailer’s structure
  2. The visual elements to be used in the trailer

The second is particularly important if you are are not using audio.  The displayed text (script) will be require room on the screen.  Choice of visuals must account for the room the text will require, and whether or not the displayed text will overlay visuals.  Generally speaking, with only displayed text, shorter is better than longer.  Long paragraphs, or even long sentences are likely to be visually jarring and remain unread unless the trailer pacing is quite slow.

Scripts will provide information about two things:

  1. The book (setting, characters, conflict, etc.)
  2. The author

Promotional trailers and teaser trailers will provide information on both, though teaser trailers will tend to be much heavier on story information or some aspect of it.

Script can deliver information about the story in one of two ways.  The first is a narrative approach.   The narrative approach uses a script that provides information from an omniscient 3rd party point of view:

  • “In world full of zombies, one man struggles to sell life insurance …”
  • “Lady Sharp faces her toughest challenge yet as …”
  • “An ostrich, an elephant, and a wedding.  What could go wrong?”

The second is the dialogue approach.  The dialogue approach has the script made up of dialogue from scenes in the book.  From what I have seen, this is used less often than the first approach as it implies the ability to show scenes or portions thereof from the book.   Not to say it cannot be done.   For example, some scenes may lend themselves to dialogue without visuals, which may make them appropriate for a book trailer.

There is nothing to say the two approaches cannot be mixed,   They often are in movie trailers and the same can be applied in book trailers.

No matter which approach you use, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Your trailer is short (or should be) — typically a minute or less; thus your script should be short as well, particularly if your are using mostly displayed text; long text blocks or sentences are out, short is in
  • Choose your words to fit your novel’s theme and setting
  • Match voice — active or passive — to the book, particularly for narrative scripting
  • Tease, don’t reveal; this applies to both promotional and teaser book trailers
  • Put as much care into scripting the trailer as you did into writing the book itself; the script uses very few words compared to the book, make every one pull its weight
  • As with the book, be prepared to work through several drafts of the script to get it right
  • Ensure the script supports and reveals critical story elements:  character, conflict, challenge

That’s all I have to say about scripting.  Agree?  Disagree?  I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about?  🙂

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again soon.



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