Tips for “writing for the ear” (audio scripting) In some ways, writing for the ear requires

the same skills as any other format. The ABCs -- Accuracy, Brevity, and Clarity -- always mark quality writing. Although most of us learn not to move our lips as we read, we still "hear" ourselves reading in our heads, and so things like rhythm and rhyme and alliteration always matter. But speeches, radio copy, commercials -- anything that ultimately aims at an audience who will hear the final version rather than read it -- also have some unique requirements. 1. Use conversational language. Write almost like you talk. Audio narration should sound like someone is TALKING to you, NOT READING to you. If you write something that "sounds" like you're reading it when you say it out loud, it's wrong. Use active verbs. Use contractions. Use sentence fragments. Use familiar vocabulary. All these attributes characterize conversational language. Yesterday, following a luncheon, the Mayor delivered an address to the student body. The Mayor talked to the students yesterday after lunch. 2. Use active verbs. Active verbs are better for listeners. They are clearer, more direct, and easier to understand. The boy was hit by the car. Who did the did it hit? listener to The car hit action? The car. What did it do? It hit. Who The boy. So it would be much easier for a understand if you just said it more directly. the boy. It's short and direct.

3. Keep sentences short.

Listeners can't go back and re-read a long or confusing sentence. Use short sentences with a basic subject-verbobject structure. Avoid compound or complex sentences. My grandmother, who came to America when she was a little girl, told me yesterday that she still remembers the first time she saw the Statue of Liberty, which she said made her cry, but I'm not sure why. My grandmother came to America when she was a little girl. Yesterday she told me she still remembers the first time she saw the Statue of Liberty. She said it made her cry. But I'm not sure why. 4. Prefer the present tense. 5. Use short words. Simpler is better. Use a simple, basic vocabulary. How can you make something simpler by using smaller words? Cathy declared she really liked chocolate. "Said" works just as well as "declared," but it is one syllable shorter and crisper. Gene attempted to purchase a new camera. "Tried to buy" is three syllables shorter than "attempted to purchase,” and it is easier to understand aurally. Readers can stop to look up unfamiliar words and come back to the same place; listeners can’t. You can find a list of the 500 most common words at 6. Use the personal and intimate "you" and "I" forms of verbs. Directly addressing your audience is the most basic form of interactivity. 8. Avoid parenthetical statements, since they're difficult for the ear to handle. People can hear certain punctuation easily. Periods. Even commas. Not parentheses. Break parentheses into separate sentences or leave them out. 9. Paraphrase more, quote less. When you use a direct quote, give credit at the beginning of the sentence.

10. Round off and "verbalize" statistics. Rather than tell us, "This year's city budget will run $286,726,090," tell us, "This year's city budget calls for nearly three hundred million dollars." 11. Spell out numbers. Speakers really should look at your copy before they deliver it, but many don't. Spelling numbers out helps keep them from stumbling, and also helps make sure the number gets reported accurately. 12. Spell out abbreviations. Don't write "e.g." Write "For example." 13. Make your structure clear. Use "Signposting" like you learned in COMM 200.("Today we'll consider three reasons to buy a new car. First ... second ... third ...") Use clear transitions. Use repetition. Use parallel sentence structure. 14. Polish the introduction and the conclusion. Make sure your introduction grabs audience attention and allows them to “tune in.” Then provide them with the critical information. Listeners remember the first and last thing they hear more than anything in the middle.

To create this reference sheet, I referred to these two websites: NYCKids: Writing for the Ear. Retrieved from Donnell King “Writing for (not by) the Ear. Retrieved from

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