Monday, April 15, 2013

The Five Genre Categories

Genres are a key part of the Story Engine.

Movies, because they are so expensive, rely mostly on marketability to be made. So if you are writing a movie, you must be very considerate of the target audience and their expectations to even have a chance at selling a script.

As for other story forms, comics, novels, web series, etc; the less cost a story form is to be made the more freedom you can have to deviate from the restrictions of genre. Still if you want to make any money from a story it's really important to have the target audience in mind when you are writing. 

The genres you choose need to best fit the story you want to tell and will dictate which audiences will be attracted to the story and what expectations you will have to meet. A disappointed audience means the story won't get far. But if you meet their expectations and give them something entertaining and original your story will very likely do well. 

There are five categories of genre: Emotional, Contextual, Medium, Audience and Functional.

Emotional Genres
Decide on a genre or a combo of two OR MAYBE 3 if you are really good at balencing the elements but any more of that usually starts to cause a lot of problems simply because of Audience expectations. 

Must decide on one main, one secondary and maybe a 3rd.

How the audience can expect to feel:
Light hearted
Feel good

This directly effects the rules of the story. The physics. What you can get away with:
Example: in a crazy comedy you can have characters defying physics for the sake of a joke but in a realistic action physics are more real but are still likely pushed for the sake of entertainment. But say in a drama perhaps the limitations of reality are strictly upheld.

It's a balance between entertainment value and believability within the world you create for your story. Maintaining the believability of your story is key to keeping audience interest. It honors the audience and as a result the audience honors your story with their attention. Breaking the believability of your story is a great way to make your audience check out.

Contextual Genres
World, Era, Setting of story.

This genre choice greatly effects the target audience and the likely budget. The more elements that will need to be created from scratch to create the world the more expensive it will be. s far as Movies and TV goes. Animated and Comics have a different set of Rules and tend to work better for fantastic settings.

High school
A specific Country
Historical Date

It's very important to have the medium in mind when you are writing and to research the limitations of the medium you are writing for. Different mediums have their strengths and weakness. 

Movies and TV: Visual, Sound, and Story driven but the most expensive and competitive form. Everything that appears in a movie has to be either hired or created from scratch either physically or digitally. Very limited story structure. You can see your imagination come to life if you actually can get it made.

Comics: Visually and Story Driven, takes more effort than a novel and tends to have simpler stories. You need a good artist to make it work. You can get away with a lot of fanciful elements with comics as well as unique stories. 

Novels: Story driven, You can get away with pretty much anything but at the end of the day it still needs to be really good to sell.

And of course there are many other forms with their own strengths and weaknesses. 

This needs to be chosen early on and it needs to fit the story you want to tell.
Targeted audience.
Dictates range of intensity and how content is portrayed.
It's vital to be original but really gear towards a specific audience.

 G (tends to be just for kids or for kids and family) (can make a lot of money in the long run)
Pg (family) (can make quite a bit of money if the story is good. example: toy story 3)
PG-13 (everyone but young kids) (makes the most money in general but can't be as intense. Dark elements tend to have to be implied instead of shown)
R (adults only) (makes the least amount of money but can be very impactful)

Also within the ratings there are different factors that can be more or less intense. Such as violence, cussing, content itself etc. Also how lightly you touch on certain subjects or how far you show different elements. 

Functional Genres
These I call functional or practical genres. They are very very good to know and decide upon before you start writing. These help dictate the basic type of story you will tell. 

Save the Cat! Genres (for full information on these Genres See "Save the Cat Goes to the Movies" and you can view the reference PDF HERE)

- Monster, House, Sin
Pure Monster, Domestic Monster, Serial Monster, Supra-natural Monster, Nihilist Monster
If your script has these components (and if not, for God’s sake try harder!), a MITH film festival is in your future: 
- A “monster,” supernatural in its powers — even if its strength derives from insanity — and “evil” at its core. 
- A “house,” meaning an enclosed space that can include a family unit, an entire town, or “the world.” 
- A “sin.” Someone is guilty of bringing the monster in the house … a transgression that can include ignorance.

- Road, Team, Prize
Sports Fleece, Buddy Fleece, Epic Fleece, Caper Fleece, Solo Fleece
If your screenplay shares any of the following (and I bet it does!), then these are the telltale signs you’ve got an itch for the broad highway — and a passel of GF movies to watch: 
- A “road” spanning oceans, time, or across the street — so long as it demarcates growth. It often includes a “road apple” that stops the trip cold. 
- A “team” or a buddy the hero needs to guide him along the way. Usually, it’s those who represent the things the hero doesn’t have: skill, experience,
- A “prize” that’s sought and is something primal: going home, securing a treasure, or re-gaining a birthright. 
The Golden Fleece tale reveals the amazing range of the genre, each with a unique goal, hero, lesson — and a host of meaningful pit stops!

- Wish, Spell, Lesson
Body Switch Bottle, Angel Bottle, Thing Bottle, Curse Bottle, Surreal Bottle
Whether your hero is a comeuppance character who needs a lesson, or a Cinderella type for whom magic is a blessing, the model OOTB film must the following elements: 
- A “wish” asked for by the hero or granted by another, and the clearly seen need to be delivered from the ordinary. 
- A “spell” which, in setting up this illogical thang, we must make logical by upholding “The Rules,” no matter how tempting it may be to use “Double Mumbo Jumbo.” 
- A “lesson”: Be careful what you wish for! It’s the running theme in all OOTBs. Life is good as it is. The following films are all

- Innocent hero, Sudden Event, Life or death Battle
Spy Problem, Law Enforcement, Domestic Problem, Epic Problem, Nature Problem
Here’s a fast test to see if the idea you’re circling is of the Dude variety and if Eva Marie Saint is in your future: 
- An “innocent hero” is dragged into this mess without asking for it — or even aware of how he got involved. 
- A “sudden event” that thrusts our innocent(s) into the world of hurt is definite — and comes without warning. 
- A “life or death” battle is at stake — and the continued existence of an individual, family, group, or society is in question. The wide variety of problems and life-or-death situations

- Life Problem, Wrong way, Acceptance
Mid-Life Passage, Separation Passage, Death Passage, Addiction Passage, Adolescent Passage
If your script has these painful elements (which you may recognize from your own life), get out your damn handkerchiefs; there’s an ROP filmfest playing near you soon. 
- A “life problem”— from puberty to midlife to death, these are the universal passages we all understand. 
- A “wrong way” to attack the mysterious problem, usually a diversion from confronting the pain, and … 
- A solution that involves “acceptance” of a hard truth the hero has been fighting, and the knowledge it’s the hero that must change, not the world around him.

- Incomplete Hero, Counterpart, Complication
Pet Love, Professional Love, Rom-com Love, Epic Love, Forbidden Love
If you are considering a story about “completion” — be it with two, three, four, or more characters — here is a quick love note to see if your BL can get to the altar: 
- It’s about an “incomplete hero” who is missing something physical, ethical, or spiritual; he needs another to be whole. 
- A “counterpart” who makes that completion come about or — in the case of a three-hander (story about a triangle) or a four-hander (story about two couples) — has qualities the hero(es) need(s). 
- A “complication,” be it a misunderstanding, personal or ethical viewpoint, epic historical event, or the prudish disapproval of society.

-Detective, Secret, Dark Turn
Political Whydunit, Fantasy Whydunit, Cop Whydunit, Personal Whydunit, Noir Whydunit
If you have a mystery on your hands and the overwhelming need to know what’s in that last little room, get a clue: 
- The “detective” does not change, we do; yet he can be any kind of gumshoe — from pro to amateur to imaginary. 
- The “secret” of the case is so strong it overwhelms the worldly lures of money, sex, power, or fame. We gots to know! And so does the Whydunit hero. 
- Finally, the “dark turn” shows that in pursuit of the secret, the detective will break the rules, even his own — often ones he has relied on for years to keep him safe. The pull of the secret is too great.

- Fool, Establishment, Transmutation
Political Fool, Undercover Fool, Society Fool, Fool Out of Water, Sex Fool
A place to send him? A disguise for him to wear? A lesson for the group to learn from le cretin? Be smart: 
- A “fool” whose innocence is his strength and whose gentle manner makes him likely to be ignored — by all but a jealous “Insider” who knows too well. 
- An “establishment,” the people or group a fool comes up against, either within his midst, or after being sent to a new place in which he does not fit — at first. Either way, the mismatch promises fireworks! 
- A “transmutation” in which the fool becomes someone or something new, often including a “name change” that’s taken on either by accident or as a disguise. From the variety

- Group, Choice, Sacrifice
Military Institution, Family Institution, Business Institution, Mentor Institution, Issue Institution
Are you convinced of your loyalty to the tenets of this cautionary tale? Then join us by knowing all its dictates: 
- Every story in this category is about a “group” — a family, an organization, or a business that is unique.
- The story is a “choice,” the ongoing conflict pitting a “Brando” or a “Naif” vs. the system’s “Company Man.” 
- Finally, a “sacrifice” must be made, leading to one of three endings: Join, burn it down … or commit “suicide.”

-Special Power, Nemesis, Curse
Real Life Superhero, Storybook Superhero, Fantasy Superhero, People’ Superhero, Comic- Book Superhero
Does he deign to be among us? Know she’s something special? Not afraid to face the forces that oppose? Shazam! 
- The hero of your tale must have a special “power” — even if it’s just a mission to be great or do good. 
- The hero must be opposed by a “Nemesis,” of equal or greater force, who is the “self-made” version of the hero. 
- There must be a “curse” for the hero that he either surmounts or succumbs to as the price for who he is.

*Snyder, Blake (2007-10-01). Save the Cat Goes to the Movies (p. 5). Michael Wiese Productions.

Genres Template
Starting with genres in mind doesn't mean you have to be boud to it but it will help you really focus on the elements that need to be present to make the story work. You can always change the genres of they end up not working with the story you want to tell. 
Emotion Genre: 
examples: Romantic Dramedy, Action Thriller, Animated Comedy

example: tearjerker, spicy, fun, feel good OR gritty, gripping, scary, mind-bending 
(See how NetFlix Categorizes it's movies in this way) 

Contextual Genre:
Example: Set in Modern New York OR 1920's England Fantasy, distopian Sci-fi future

Audience Genre:
PG-13 for insinuated content but will not show anything and no cuss words, Ages 16 - 60 - because it deals with themes that most ages can appreciate.
R for violence and disturbing images, Ages 18 to 40 - because it deals with themes young adults would appreciate more

Functional Genre/Save the cat:
Example: BUDDY LOVE - Rom-com Love (see save the cat genres)

Example: Animated TV Show,  Live Action Indie Film, Web Comic, Novel, Internet Released Prose

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