It never hurts to be reminded there are other kinds of stories than the ones you have been writing. Even though this is a list of film genres, you know any screenplay could also be written as a novel.
Action – The story must always be barrelling straight ahead. There are no breathers to develop complicated plots or characters. The good characters are obviously good and the bad characters are obviously bad.
Adventure – These are very similar to the action genre but with travel to exotic places; other continents, space, underground, or through a time portal. The villains in an adventure may be harsh environments or epic tasks instead of people.
Comedy – No serious themes are allowed here, unless it’s to make fun of them. Every variation of humor is allowed. There’s no serious character development either.
Crime – The story happens based on the plans of a criminal. The plot will differ depending on whether you go with a bumbling idiot, criminal mastermind or some in between character. Reform for your leading criminal character is unlikely. Usually they get worse until their tragic end.
Drama – This genre is all about the story. Real life events and issues are dealt with and character development is very important.
Epic – This lives up to its name. An epic is a long story either based on historical fact or presented as if its story could be true. Epics often cover a lot of territory and a long period of time.
Horror – These films are meant to scare us by making our worst fears come true. They are also sometimes intended to teach us a lesson. When they are meant to educate, most of the characters are stereotypes that get killed off because of their associated personality flaws. The hero who makes it out alive represents a balanced personality with enough flexibility to adapt to the nightmare.
Mystery – These begin with some puzzle to be solved, usually a murder. As the story develops, clues are dropped that reveal the solution. In novels, enough clues are supplied that you could solve the mystery before the end. In films, it is becoming increasing the case that vital clues are withheld in order to create a surprise ending.
Musical – The story is written in a way that maximizes the amount of music, song and dance. This film genre doesn’t make a good novel.
Police – A crime film from the perspective of the police. The focus is on the techniques used to catch the villain. Character development can figure heavily in this genre.
Revenge – This is a sub-genre of the crime genre, usually with much more violence. At first the offences may be minor but grow more rash with each act of revenge until they becomes murderous.
Sci-fi – This can range from hard science, based on fact, to entirely fictional stories that stretch the imagination.
War – Real wars of the past provide the setting. Heart pounding excitement is guaranteed amid such horror. These may also be mixed with action, adventure, dark comedy, epic or sci-fi genres.
Western – This is action invariably set in the old west, even if not the American old west. The setting is the 1800s and guns and horses figure prominently. The bad guys and good guys are very one dimensional.
How is this list useful? If you’ve always written for the same genre, you might want to expand your horizons by adding a new one. If you’re a prolific writer and have many manuscripts sent out to publishers, you can afford the slow down of writing a new kind of novel. If you’ve been working on the same book for years, maybe you should be writing for a different genre.
The best writing comes from experience. Even sci-fi is written from experience since its authors immerse themselves in the sci-fi world of books, games and movies. Writing what you know makes the job easier. While non-writers think writing is a breeze, we all know writing is the toughest job you will ever love.
Article by Ivan Izo.