Whether scripting as an anchor or a reporter, it's important at all times to keep the visuals in mind when writing to video.
This can be when writing to a video package that has already been edited or when scripting to video that will "cover" your voice-over. As indicated in the section below on scripting a reporter package, writing should generally enhance what people can already see. That said, as we will reiterate later in this chapter, it might be necessary to write more precise descriptions of certain visual elements in order to draw the viewer's attention to something specific in the video. An example might be a critical play in a game where a close call by an official—such as whether or not a player was out of bounds—eventually helped to decide the outcome of a game.
If you're going to use copy for video highlights, you don't want to write this:
Then at 5:35 of the period, Smith netted his 35th goal of the season for the game-winner as he took a pass from Morgan and beat the goaltender over his right shoulder. The tally placed him fourth in the league in scoring and put him on pace to set a record for goals in a season for his team .
Instead, use shorty, punchy lines that accentuate what people can already see.
A little more than five minutes into the third . . . boom . . . the game-winner. Morgan the set-up. Smith goes top-shelf. His 35th of the season. He's fourth best in the league. On pace to set a team record for goals in a season ...
More times than not, however, voicing over highlights is accomplished not through writing per se but by ad-libbing while using a "cut sheet." The cut sheet contains a brief description of the highlight and when it occurred in the game. As we'll discuss in Chapter 6, the action of the highlights package and the very nature of ad-libbing requires the anchor to change the cadence and provide a more upbeat, exciting delivery.
When writing into a sound bite, be sure to avoid being redundant. So, the last few words of your lead-in should essentially paraphrase what the person is saying in the bite.
For example, let's say a bite from the manager of the baseball teams starts like this:
I could tell by the top of the seventh that Jones was getting a little tired. He'd lost about a foot off his fastball and he'd walked the first two hitters he'd faced
Don't use this as a lead-in:
Manager Joe Smith could tell Jones was getting tired
Use that and your words will match those of the manager. Instead, paraphrase by writing this:
After six innings, manager Joe Smith was ready to go to the bullpen.
Like much of what you are reading in this chapter, this is good advice when writing for radio as well as television.
By the way, if you don't have a sound bite from a person but you do have a quote, don't say "quote . . . unquote," say, "in his/her words," and then write what they had to say. And at all costs, refrain from the reporter's pet phrase "told me." It's inherent in the fact that you have the quote that it was either told directly to you or at least you were within earshot. The use of "told me" is at worst egotistical and at best unnecessary and a distraction.