Secrets to successful eLearning screenwriting

Jake Barnell shares more of his hints and tips for writing great sceenplays, to create engaging animations and eLearning.

Here at iAM, our learning scripts are a mixture of animated video and interactive sections that require the learner to get involved. 

Challenge number one: We don’t just need to consider how things are going to look during animations. We’ve also got to be able to explain how we want interactive sections to work. That can be tricky, as the interaction in some courses can be quite complex. 

Often these more complex interactions will need to be planned meticulously with a learning designer beforehand, then explained simply and effectively in the screenplay. The artist and the build team can then work from those notes to get the job done.

It’s not just the writing you need to think about when you’re creating a screenplay. You need to collate assets like sets, characters, and props. If they’re not available for recycling from your current library, then they’ll need to be drawn. 

When considering the artwork, you need to strike a balance between variety and recall. Some variety is good, as set changes and visual interest will help keep the learner engaged, but you don’t want so much that it distracts the learner. 

It’s also good to repeat, especially when you’re recalling previous instances of the same or similar learning. Characters need the same kind of consideration. Too many characters and the learner will get lost just trying to keep up. But just using one or two may not be enough to carry the narrative and could even be a little boring. They need to be memorable, too.

Once you have everything you need, you can start thinking about camera direction. Most artists and animators we use have enough experience to get all the basics right without too much direction. But there’ll be moments when I have a specific shot, or sequence of shots, in mind and I’ll need to be very precise about what I want. 

Occasionally, there will be moments when I need to be really brave… and do nothing at all. Yep, you read that right. Sometimes doing nothing can be really effective. Sometimes you don’t need any action. Sometimes a simple slow zoom can be more effective than 10 to 20 seconds of complex action and camera movements. It can take bravery to try it, but it can be absolutely necessary.

I can’t get no satisfaction… from my eLearning ending

There’s nothing worse than a rubbish ending, it clouds your opinion of the entire story overall. 

You want a good and proper resolution to wrap things up. If you don’t, it can leave the learner feeling unsatisfied. Even if the narrative isn’t the most important aspect of the course. 

Any dissatisfaction felt will detract from the learning experience. So it’s important to keep your learner happy and give them what they want. 

4 tips for writing a great eLearning script

Here’s a reminder of our four most important tips when drafting your screenplay, including some points that we describe in more detail in our previous article:

  • Make sure the learning always remains the focus of the screenplay and use techniques such as repetition, on-screen text, and visual effects to reinforce the content.
  • Using a conceptual narrative with familiar storytelling techniques can keep your learners interested and help your content stand out from the crowd.
  • Work closely with your instructional designers and animators to make sure your idea is brought to life clearly and effectively.
  • Make sure there is a resolution to your story to keep your learners satisfied.

And there you have it – the secret to becoming the next blockbuster screenwriter!

Written by Jake Barnell

Jake Barnell is the Creative Manager at iAM Learning. A former teacher, voiceover artist and musician, Jake writes and reviews all aspects of the learning courses at iAM. He draws on more than 20 years of experience as a script and screenplay writer for some of the biggest brands in the UK


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