On Genre

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Some useful ideas on genre in screenwriting.

Storycoaching

We screenwrite to produce spec scripts that communicate our talent to a decision-maker who will then pay us to write. To this end, your spec script should be familiar. Familiar means in a recognizable genre. We know genres – if a comedy makes us laugh it works. If a horror movie scares us, it works.

Genres work because they’re familiar, we have the tools to analyze them. But if you say “My script is an experimental piece, very stream of consciousness, a mix of Truffaut and Malick,” I have no way of knowing if you succeeded. The pile of papers you hand me might be brilliant, or it might be a pretentious pile of crap. Lacking a genre, I lack the tools to confidently make that decision, so I’ll cover my ass and I’ll recommend the competent comedy over the potentially brilliant new thing. And that’s the opinion of me, a relatively…

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