The Craft of Screenwriting: Genres

Genres: The different kinds of stories, Part 1

Many years ago, a Genre film was considered to be a B-Movie or a lesser type of film. Now Genre films are some of the top money making movies released year after year. Genres were once used as a way for movie studios to budget and market their film slates. Now, writers can uses genres to create better, more exciting movies. Knowing what the genre of your film is, can allow the writer to recognize the conventions of the genre. These conventions or “Rules” are what the audience expects from this type of movie. Being familiar with genres allows the writer to write well crafted stories that twist and turn expectations to create a vibrant, exciting movie experience.

Different genres have different conventions and the film makers must use these “ rules” to create a vivid movie world and to never break the audiences Suspension of Disbelief which is the people sitting in the dark theatre agreeing to believe what ever rules the writer creates for the story no matter how fantastic; if they are established logically in the beginning of the story. The movie makers can not violate these rules unless this was foreshadowed early on and the audience is in on the change. The film maker doesn’t want the audience questioning the logic of the story, so the actions of the characters must seem natural for how the characters were established early on.

This is why Comedies and Horror films are shorter than Dramas and Action films, it is harder to keep the Suspension of Disbelief going in these kind of films. How long before the audience begins to wonder why no one has come to help the campers at Crystal Lake or question how long Jim Carrey’s character can lie before someone finds out the truth?

Term to Know: Suspension of Disbelief
The Audience’s wiliness to put aside their skepticism to accept the premise of the story as long as the Writer follows the rules of the story set up in the First Act. Example: You can’t suddenly introduce a fighter jet into a Medieval setting if you haven’t set up the possibility of some type of time travel very early in the story.