GENRE... sets up story expectations

GENRE whets the story appetite of your audience, know it and use it effectively.

I always say that GENRE is like the smell of good food cooking.  It sets you up for the story adventure that lies ahead.  It gets your audience in the mood.  It’s the appetizer that tempts their palate.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, genre is the way we categorize stories - like mystery, action-adventure, drama, comedy, buddy films.  I could go on and on - but I think you probably get the picture.

Genre is important for marketing purposes.  What’s the first thing you ask when a friend calls you up and says, ‘Do you want to go see XYZ movie?”  You say, “What IS it?”   You might not use the word, genre…. But that’s what you mean.  From your film-going experience you already know what genres you prefer to see.  Maybe you prefer action-adventure or even comedies but never westerns.  See what I mean?

The thing about genre is that is more than mere categorization though. It is the process by which we begin the storytelling journey.  And it’s important to understand for a number of different reasons. First of all, IF a film is billed in a particular genre - say Comedy.  The audience is going to expect to laugh.   A western? They expect cowboys!  So as a writer, you need to be aware of what expectations an audience will hold for the particular genre of film you are writing.

So what genre ARE you writing with your film?  Is it a family drama, biographical drama, or something else?  The first thing you need to do then is identify your genre and then WATCH a number of different films from the same genre to begin to figure out what the signifiersare for it. Really watch several good films from your chosen genre and note what elements give your particular genre its’ shape.  And then make certain those elements are included in your own storyline.  

Genre signifiers are like a road map for your audience or highway signs that they can subconsciously check off and say, “Oh, okay. I know where were going.”

I hope this helps. And good luck with your writing.