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Old 03-26-2015, 03:56 PM   #1
ricther
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Default Sticking to one Genre??

Not only as a writer, but as a film lover, I love ALL genres of movies. So naturally when I decided I wanted to write movies, I came up with ideas for dramas, comedies, horror, etc. I've read that as a newbie writer, agents/managers prefer if you only stick to and specialize in one genre. How much truth is there to this? I've already written two comedies (one of which I actually want to go out with) and now I'm writing a horror script. Should I pump the brakes and stick to comedies? Because I really don't want to be forced into one genre.
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Old 03-26-2015, 04:24 PM   #2
Bunker
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

There is a lot of truth to that statement.

As humans, we tend to categorize things. And in this town, it's not just writers who get pigeonholed. Actors, directors, producers, even editors and art department heads get forced into particular genres.

Part of that just comes from taste. Readers like certain genres, and they don't like certain genres. If your genres are too diverse, you'll never make many fans. The question "What are you working on next?" could probably be rephrased as "I liked your last thing and want to see more like it." If your agent gets you fans in the comedy world, then they'll have a much harder time getting you fans in the horror world.

With that said, if you feel the urge to genre-hop (and I'm a firm believer in "Write what inspires you" not "Write what's expected of you") you should come up with a clear thread that defines your work. Something that unifies all your scripts and gives you a way to identify yourself. It might be the tone, or subject matter, or your approach to stories from different genres. In essence, redefine your pigeonhole.

It's also helpful if your genre-hopping appeals to a consistent audience. For example, hard-core horror and family comedy don't have a lot of audience crossover, meaning you'll never find a reader who enjoys both. But you might find a reader who enjoys both hard-R horror and hard-R comedy. If you can define yourself as "that guy who writes edgy, off-the-wall stuff" then you're doing okay.
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:13 PM   #3
Bono
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

Write whatever you want. But if you sell a horror script, good chance your rep will want you to write another horror script. And the people you meet with. But if you want to write a comedy, they can't stop you, but it's harder to sell you if you do both in their eyes. Sad, but true.

Or easy solution I guess is to write a horror/comedy, so you can just call yourself a comedy writer.

It's all so stupid really, but that's the way it is. I guess why make it harder on yourself and pick your favorite genre to write even if you see all movies like most normal writers do. In fact, sometimes I can't watch comedies because it drives me mad they got made, I didn't write it... so rarther watch other genres just to enjoy film and not think about it like I'm studying.

So yes, stick to one genre when you get good at one.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:33 PM   #4
PoisonIvy
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

At this stage in your career it doesn't matter to be honest. If you are writing on spec, you should write whatever you want to write. Maybe you are a much better horror writer than you are a comedy writer! You'll never know till you try. But let's say one of your scripts breaks out - gets bought or even gets made. Then the goal is to move into professional writer category and start getting money for assignments. In this case your samples would be evaluated by executives or producers who are looking for writers and that's where genre starts to matter. If I need a horror writer, it is highly unlikely I will hire one off a cool romcom sample. I just can't be sure he can give me what I need. However, a writer with a produced horror credit and a romcom writing sample can still be put up for a romcom assignment - their horror credit will not be a negative as long as the sample is good.
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Old 03-26-2015, 07:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

I see no downside in showing your range - especially early on. Maybe your comedy script is going to be a bigger hit than your horror one. Who knows? Put it all out there! As other posters have said - just write, write, write!!!!
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Old 03-26-2015, 07:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

I like a lil comedy and romance, but have noticed a thriller underpinning to most of my stuff -- in tone, that is. I guess it beats being dull
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Old 03-26-2015, 09:17 PM   #7
Paul Striver
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

Quote:
It's all so stupid really, but that's the way it is.
It's actually not stupid. There are very, very, very few writers who can write multiple genres well.

If a horror/thriller/action/scifi writer decides to write a comedy, more than 99% of the time the result is going to be painful, i.e., not funny. Writers who think they're funny are almost always like the deluded souls auditioning for American Idol who think they can sing (except that sometimes bad singers are funny, while bad comedy writers never are).

Similarly, the best horror movies are written by people who know and deeply love the genre. There aren't many (any?) cases where a comedy specialist has decided to write a horror script and it turned out well.

Etc.

It takes a leap of faith to believe you're talented enough to be a professional writer in one genre; believing you can be a go-to professional in multiple genres is bordering on deranged.

However, as others have said, when you're just getting started, before you've even gotten anyone's attention, it's not a bad idea to write in multiple genres—you might discover you're really good at a genre you wouldn't have expected, and you'll certainly learn (unless you're delusional) that there are some genres you definitively suck at, and that's good information to have. So I'd say write whatever excites you the most at any given time, and if you're ever lucky enough to have to worry about being pigeon-holed, that will be a fantastic problem to have.
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Old 03-26-2015, 11:19 PM   #8
Ronaldinho
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

Think of it this way.

Let's say you get some heat on one of your scripts. Let's say it's a horror script. And it wins fans all over town, and you meet 20 different producers. One of them options the script! Yay!

But the other 19 say, "What else you got?"

And here's the thing. Those 19 people are horror producers. They're read a horror script of yours and loved it. If you say, "Well, I've got a great comedy!" or "I've got a big-budget action film" they can't do anything with it. The want more horror from you. That's what they know and what they do.

You want to be able to say, "Well, if you loved that script, I've got this one, too!" That's the beginning of a career.
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Old 03-26-2015, 11:23 PM   #9
PoisonIvy
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

Well, actually, in this day and age genres often intermingle. Two years ago I had an OWA for a tongue in cheek heist thriller rewrite - I went through maybe 20 action thriller writers and none were right. The project had very elaborate action and had to be very fast paced but that "tongue in cheek" tone was so hard to pin down. Cut to - six months later I finally got my guy whose background was in… sitcoms of all things! Yes, I got a TV writer to do a rewrite on a feature and he did great.

Similarly, there are horror comedies - who would you go with? A horror writer or a comedy writer?

Sometimes executives intentionally go off genre just to see if they can get a fresh, more interesting take. Doesn't work every time, but when it does, it does…

As for non horror writers writing horror - WOMAN IN BLACK was one of the biggest horror hits of 2012 - look up Jane Goldman and James Watkins - their credits are the definition of all over the place.
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Old 03-27-2015, 07:24 AM   #10
Paul Striver
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Default Re: Sticking to one Genre??

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Originally Posted by PoisonIvy View Post
Well, actually, in this day and age genres often intermingle. Two years ago I had an OWA for a tongue in cheek heist thriller rewrite ...

Similarly, there are horror comedies - who would you go with? A horror writer or a comedy writer?

As for non horror writers writing horror - WOMAN IN BLACK was one of the biggest horror hits of 2012 - look up Jane Goldman and James Watkins - their credits are the definition of all over the place.
Thank you for citing an exception; that nicely proves the rule.

As for hybrid works, I didn't think it was necessary to state the obvious, e.g., that a horror comedy or action comedy might be better written by a comedy specialist. But there are 50 times more horror movies and comedy movies than there are horror comedies, and 10 times more action movies and comedies than there are action comedies. It would be an especially tough gig to try to become a go-to writer in a hybrid-genre which produces only one or two movies per year.
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