Before you start developing the idea you have for a story, you need to know what genre you want to set your story in.
Genre is a word that often creeps into writing and can be easily misunderstood or misread.
It is simply the category or what type of you choose to write. this can be a drama, romance, action-adventure, science fiction, comedy, horror, musical, documentary, or a well-balanced mixture of different genres (An action-romance, a horror-comedy).
Each Genre also has many subgenres: If you want to write a Horror, the subgenres are The Uncanny, where the source of horror is astounding but subject to ‘rational’ explanation, such as beings from outer space, science-made monsters, or a maniac; the Supernatural, where the source of horror is an irrational phenomenon from the spirit of the realm, the Super-Uncanny, where readers/audiences keep guessing between the other two possibilities, and Splatter Films where gore and blood dominate.
You have to be familiar with other film, television shows, and books that relate to or are similar to, the story you want to write. It is one of the major building blocks in laying the foundation of the story you want to write.
Genres are harsh on those who don’t know the history, don’t know the rules. Once you know them, you’ll know where they can be broken. Terry Pratchett (‘A Slip of the Keyboard’)
Genre is a type of story that has a visceral appeal to its audience
Storytelling is genre-driven and each genre has demands that must be understood and met… Since there are certain requirements that studio readers and audience members consciously and subconsciously expect to be met, the greater the chance you have of making a sale. Richard Krevolin
Know who your audience / readers are. Give them what they want.
How Genre will help you to write your story
- Genre will help you to make sure that you know who you are writing for. Its the goods you must deliver to make your audience / readers feel satisfied. No matter how brilliant your story is on its own terms, if you do not deliver the goods on the genre, you will frustrate your audience / readers and the story will fail.
- Each Genre imposes certain conventions on the story. The choice of genre sharply determines and limits what’s possible within a story.
- Your Genre will help you to understand the nature of your Protagonist and Antagonist, clearly define their respective roles in your story.
- Every genre has a narrative style that the audience / readers expect and enjoys.
- Genre is important in the telling of your story. This narrative decision determines how audiences / readers experience the story.
- Do not be afraid to experiment with genre and step out of your comfort zone. If your story does not work in a genre, switch genres, and explore other options that might boost the potential of your story.
In our signature course The Write Journey, you will explore the most popular Film, Television and Fiction genres, examine the pros and cons of each genre, the importance and common features of genre. You will explore Genre Plots in when plotting your story.
While scholars dispute definitions and systems, the audience is already a genre expert. It enters each film armed with a complex set of anticipations learned through a lifetime of moviegoing. The genre sophistication of filmgoers presents the writer with the critical challenge: He must not only fulfil audience anticipation, or risk their confusion and disappointment, but he must lead their expectations to fresh, unexpected moments, or risk boring them. Innovative writers are not only contemporary, they are visionary. They have their ear to the wall of history, and as things change, they can sense the way society is leaning towards the future. They can produce works that break convention and take the genre into the next generation. Robert McKee, Story