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Notes from a Screenreader: To Genre or Not to Genre

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

A drama screenplay is fine, but it’s sort of like prose in that it is defined by what it isn’t. It’s not funny, scary, sci-fi or action.

In competitions, that’s not such a handicap, because you are paying to be read, but neither are you giving yourself all the advantages.

  • Check the prizes. Most major competitions have awards for scripts that meet certain criteria, and if you look closely, you’ll notice that many of those prizes are sponsored by production companies who are looking for exactly that kind of script.
  • Attractive loglines. One of the perks of doing well in a competition is that your logline gets read by lots of people who are script shopping. A genre logline with a potentially modest budget will generate lots of inquiries, because those scripts are easy to market.
  • It’s playtime. Writing in genre is naturally inventive and focuses on visuals before dialogue. The escalations aren’t hampered by pesky things like reality, and the conflict practically writes itself.

If you have a logline that won’t quite gel, throw a genre spin on it for fun.

ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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