In his book, Your Screenplay Sucks, William M. Akers stresses that understanding the right genre tropes and conventions and their current popularity is essential if your story is to have a chance in the market place. He stresses that if you don’t have a clearly defined, simple to understand genre, you’re probably off to a poor start.
Is the genre of your story a sci-if, a western, a coming of age story? Still not sure by page ten of your screenplay or novel? Then ‘you’re toast.’ If you’re not sure, the readers certainly aren’t either.
Additionally Akers advises that writers work in a genre that they like and are good at. If you only watch cop movies but have decided to write a love story, that might be an attempt to spread your wings, but you probably lack the experience in the genre to pull it off right away.
“Picking the right genre that is going to be all the rage by the time you’re done writing your masterpiece is at best a hit-and-miss affair. The point is to write in the genre you like and to never stop spinning that wheel of fortune.”
Have you decided to write in a specific genre because it’s currently all the rage? Probably a dumb idea. Here’s why: It will take you several months to write that script or novel, perhaps even longer. Now consider how long it takes to bring a story to the screen or press. The genre could well have lost steam by the time you’re done.
Akers provides the example of Bob Rodat who decided to write a gangster movie but send it to his agent on the same week three gangster movies opened and bombed on the circuit. The agent shrugged his script off.
But the story has a happy ending: Bob never gave up and went on to write Saving Private Ryan!
The point is that you never know when the timing’s going to be right for a particular genre. Akers’ advice is therefore to write in a genre you like or are competent in. Be aware, though, that someone else might be thinking the very same thing too. Just never, ever give up on writing and you might get lucky, just like Bob Rodat did!
Write in a genre that you like and are competent in, knowing that its popularity depends on some timing and a lot of luck.