COVERSCRIPT TIPS – Genre

The most common film genres are:

  1. Action
  2. Adventure
  3. Comedy
  4. Crime/gangster
  5. Drama
  6. Epics/historical
  7. Horror
  8. Musicals
  9. Science fiction
  10. War
  11. Westerns

Each genre has its own instantly recognizable patterns and conventions.

Over the years, audiences have become accustomed to these patterns and conventions and expect the genre they are first presented with to abide by the patterns and conventions that are applicable to that genre.

Audiences watch different genres differently; and readers approach the read of different genres differently.

Of course, there can be combinations of genres – a comedic horror film, an action-packed sci-fi, a dramatic western, a historical musical and etc.  And they work, as long as you let your audience know from the story’s setup, right from the get-go, what combination of genres it’s in for.

What doesn’t work is presenting one genre and then switching to another.

Nor does it work if one genre is presented at the setup, then its switched to another as the story continues, and then goes back to the first genre.

Presenting a straight comedy and then switching to straight horror twelve pages later won’t work.

Neither will presenting a straight drama, and then in the middle of act two giving us two straight comedic scenes, and then continuing with an attempt to return to straight drama.

It’s too shocking to the system, it confuses the audience, and it violates their suspension of disbelief because it defies the expected and accepted patterns and conventions.

Switching genres mid stream throws the audience, or your reader, out of the story with no desire to dive back in.

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