Genre Essentials: Vote for your Action titles!

October 8th, 2012 by

It’s time to round out our Genre Essentials series. For those who need a reminder, it all started here:

I have gotten to know a lot of screenwriters through the years including many of those who have broken into the business recently. In talking with or interviewing them, there is one thing I find they have in common: They know their stuff, particularly about the genre in which they write.

This is important: When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to certain genres, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

Take the eight most common genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller.

Combine with five content areas: Movies, Scripts, Books [Fiction], Books [Non-Fiction], Resource.

Use the suggestions of the GITS community to generate a list of essential study for each genre.

I ran this series for 2 months, week by week, and you generated some incredible titles and resources.

Now let’s finalize those lists.

Today: Action.

Go here to vote in each area:

VOTING: 10 Must-See Action Movies

VOTING: Must-Read Action Scripts

VOTING: Must-Read Fiction Books for Action Writers

Action: Must-Read [Non-Fiction] Books

Other Action Resources

Each day this week, I will invite you to vote in different genres. Based on that, we will end up with a set of essential resources you need to cover per each of these eight genres.

So please take the time to make your voice heard.

Tomorrow: Comedy.

Genre Essentials: Drama — 10 Drama Movies You Must See

July 23rd, 2012 by

The push to push you to learn what you need to learn to succeed as a professional screenwriter continues here at GITS.

There is 1, 2, 7, 14, a simple formula to be a more productive and better screenwriter.

There is Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project, a poor person’s version of film school to help you immerse yourself in the world of movies.

There is How I Write A Script, a 10 stage approach to the actual process of writing a full-length original screenplay.

There is How To Read A Screenplay, a series of exercises you can use to dig into and unlock the secrets of a script, its structure, characters, theme and style.

There is The Business of Screenwriting, weekly posts on business side of the craft.

There is The Story Behind Script Coverage, a detailed analysis of a major Hollywood agency’s training packet for script readers.

And ongoing series such as Great Characters, Scene Description Spotlight, Script To Screen, and so forth.

Now the next series to help you learn and succeed: Genre Essentials. It all started here.

I have gotten to know a lot of screenwriters through the years including many of those who have broken into the business recently. In talking with or interviewing them, there is one thing I find they have in common: They know their stuff, particularly about the genre in which they write.

This is important: When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to each genre, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

Take the eight most common genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller.

Combine with five content areas: Movies, Scripts, Books [Fiction], Books [Non-Fiction], Resource.

Use the suggestions of the GITS community to generate a list of essential study for each genre.

Here is the schedule:

July 9-July 13: Action
July 16-July 20: Comedy
July 23-July 27: Drama
July 30-August 3: Family
August 6-10: Fantasy
August 13-17: Horror
August 20-24: Science Fiction
August 27-31: Thriller

For this to work, we all need to pitch in with suggestions. This is especially true for those of you who are fans of a certain genre. I’m asking every GITS reader to spend some time over the July 4th holiday week thinking up useful titles for these:

– 10 Movies You Must See

– 10 Scripts You Must Analyze

– 10 Books [Fiction] You Must Read

– 10 Book [Non-Fiction] You Must Cover

– 10 Resources [Blogs, Websites, Journals, Magazines] You Must Track

I am talking about titles you will need to know when you break into the business — for general meetings, script meetings, OWA meetings, and as noted for your own benefit as a writer. What have writers and filmmakers done before? What commonalities can you find between them? What differences? What is the core content you must know in order to be able to give yourself a decent shot at nailing a script within a particular genre?

Genre Essentials: If you read, watch and analyze these, you will give yourself a foundation upon which you can build your understanding of one or more of the eight genres in which Hollywood traffics.

This week: Drama

Today: 10 Drama Movie You Must See.

Please post your suggestions in comments. Tomorrow and the rest of the week, let’s do our best to generate quality suggestions for the other categories.

Next week: Family.

UPDATE: I’m happy to announce that Shaula Evans, who as I’m sure you have noticed has been an active presence in this series and others, has agreed to oversee the flow of resource suggestions for Genre Essentials. My current thinking is whittle down the choices to something on the order of 20 titles [where we have that many], then put them up to a vote of the GITS community to end up with 10 top choices. Meanwhile thanks, Shaula, for the help!

Genre Essentials: Comedy — 10 Comedy Books [Fiction] You Must Read

July 19th, 2012 by

When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to each genre, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

This week: Comedy.

Today: 10 Comedy Books [Fiction] You Must Read.

Please post your suggestions in comments. Let’s do our best to generate quality suggestions for the other categories.

To read your suggestions for 10 Comedy Movies You Must See, go here.

To read your suggestions for 10 Comedy Scripts You Must Analyze, go here.

Next week: Drama.

I am pleased to announce that Shaula Evans has kindly agreed to oversee the flow of resource suggestions for the Genre Essentials series. My current thinking is whittle down the choices to something on the order of 20 titles [where we have that many], then put them up to a vote of the GITS community to end up with 10 top choices. How does that sound? Meanwhile thanks, Shaula, for the help!

Genre Essentials: Comedy — 10 Comedy Scripts You Must Analyze

July 18th, 2012 by

When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to each genre, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

This week: Comedy.

Today: 10 Comedy Scripts You Must Analyze.

Please post your suggestions in comments. Let’s do our best to generate quality suggestions for the other categories.

To read your suggestions for 10 Comedy Movies You Must See, go here.

Next week: Drama.

I am pleased to announce that Shaula Evans has kindly agreed to oversee the flow of resource suggestions for the Genre Essentials series. My current thinking is whittle down the choices to something on the order of 20 titles [where we have that many], then put them up to a vote of the GITS community to end up with 10 top choices. How does that sound? Meanwhile thanks, Shaula, for the help!

Genre Essentials: Comedy — 10 Comedy Movies You Must See

July 17th, 2012 by

The push to push you to learn what you need to learn to succeed as a professional screenwriter continues here at GITS.

There is 1, 2, 7, 14, a simple formula to be a more productive and better screenwriter.

There is Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project, a poor person’s version of film school to help you immerse yourself in the world of movies.

There is How I Write A Script, a 10 stage approach to the actual process of writing a full-length original screenplay.

There is How To Read A Screenplay, a series of exercises you can use to dig into and unlock the secrets of a script, its structure, characters, theme and style.

There is The Business of Screenwriting, weekly posts on business side of the craft.

There is The Story Behind Script Coverage, a detailed analysis of a major Hollywood agency’s training packet for script readers.

And ongoing series such as Great Characters, Scene Description Spotlight, Script To Screen, and so forth.

Now the next series to help you learn and succeed: Genre Essentials. It all started here.

I have gotten to know a lot of screenwriters through the years including many of those who have broken into the business recently. In talking with or interviewing them, there is one thing I find they have in common: They know their stuff, particularly about the genre in which they write.

This is important: When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to each genre, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

Take the eight most common genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller.

Combine with five content areas: Movies, Scripts, Books [Fiction], Books [Non-Fiction], Resource.

Use the suggestions of the GITS community to generate a list of essential study for each genre.

Here is the schedule:

July 9-July 13: Action
July 16-July 20: Comedy
July 23-July 27: Drama
July 30-August 3: Family
August 6-10: Fantasy
August 13-17: Horror
August 20-24: Science Fiction
August 27-31: Thriller

For this to work, we all need to pitch in with suggestions. This is especially true for those of you who are fans of a certain genre. I’m asking every GITS reader to spend some time over the July 4th holiday week thinking up useful titles for these:

– 10 Movies You Must See

– 10 Scripts You Must Analyze

– 10 Books [Fiction] You Must Read

– 10 Book [Non-Fiction] You Must Cover

– 10 Resources [Blogs, Websites, Journals, Magazines] You Must Track

I am talking about titles you will need to know when you break into the business — for general meetings, script meetings, OWA meetings, and as noted for your own benefit as a writer. What have writers and filmmakers done before? What commonalities can you find between them? What differences? What is the core content you must know in order to be able to give yourself a decent shot at nailing a script within a particular genre?

Genre Essentials: If you read, watch and analyze these, you will give yourself a foundation upon which you can build your understanding of one or more of the eight genres in which Hollywood traffics.

This week: Comedy.

Today: 10 Comedy Movie You Must See.

Please post your suggestions in comments. Tomorrow and the rest of the week, let’s do our best to generate quality suggestions for the other categories.

Next week: Drama.

Note: I will aim to post a summary of Action recommendations this weekend.

UPDATE: I’m happy to announce that Shaula Evans, who as I’m sure you have noticed has been an active presence in this series and others, has agreed to oversee the flow of resource suggestions for Genre Essentials. My current thinking is whittle down the choices to something on the order of 20 titles [where we have that many], then put them up to a vote of the GITS community to end up with 10 top choices. How does that sound? Meanwhile thanks, Shaula, for the help!

Genre Essentials: Action — 10 Action Books [Fiction] You Must Read

July 11th, 2012 by

When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to each genre, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

This week: Action.

Today: 10 Action Books [Fiction] You Must Read.

Please post your suggestions in comments. Let’s do our best to generate quality suggestions for the other categories.

On Sunday, July 15, I will post the Genre Essentials: Action list.

To read your suggestions for 10 Action Movies You Must See, go here.

To read your suggestions for 10 Action Scripts You Must Analyze, go here.

Next week: Comedy.

Genre Essentials: Action — 10 Action Scripts You Must Analyze

July 10th, 2012 by

When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to each genre, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

This week: Action.

Today: 10 Action Scripts You Must Analyze.

Please post your suggestions in comments. Let’s do our best to generate quality suggestions for the other categories.

On Sunday, July 15, I will post the Genre Essentials: Action list.

To read your suggestions for 10 Actions Movies You Must See, go here.

Next week: Comedy.

Genre Essentials: Action — 10 Action Movies You Must See

July 9th, 2012 by

The push to push you to learn what you need to learn to succeed as a professional screenwriter continues here at GITS.

There is 1, 2, 7, 14, a simple formula to be a more productive and better screenwriter.

There is Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project, a poor person’s version of film school to help you immerse yourself in the world of movies.

There is How I Write A Script, a 10 stage approach to the actual process of writing a full-length original screenplay.

There is How To Read A Screenplay, a series of exercises you can use to dig into and unlock the secrets of a script, its structure, characters, theme and style.

There is The Business of Screenwriting, weekly posts on business side of the craft.

There is The Story Behind Script Coverage, a detailed analysis of a major Hollywood agency’s training packet for script readers.

And ongoing series such as Great Characters, Scene Description Spotlight, Script To Screen, and so forth.

Now the next series to help you learn and succeed: Genre Essentials. It all started here.

I have gotten to know a lot of screenwriters through the years including many of those who have broken into the business recently. In talking with or interviewing them, there is one thing I find they have in common: They know their stuff, particularly about the genre in which they write.

This is important: When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to each genre, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

Take the eight most common genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller.

Combine with five content areas: Movies, Scripts, Books [Fiction], Books [Non-Fiction], Resource.

Use the suggestions of the GITS community to generate a list of essential study for each genre.

Here is the schedule:

July 9-July 13: Action
July 16-July 20: Comedy
July 23-July 27: Drama
July 30-August 3: Family
August 6-10: Fantasy
August 13-17: Horror
August 20-24: Science Fiction
August 27-31: Thriller

For this to work, we all need to pitch in with suggestions. This is especially true for those of you who are fans of a certain genre. I’m asking every GITS reader to spend some time over the July 4th holiday week thinking up useful titles for these:

– 10 Movies You Must See

– 10 Scripts You Must Analyze

– 10 Books [Fiction] You Must Read

– 10 Book [Non-Fiction] You Must Cover

– 10 Resources [Blogs, Websites, Journals, Magazines] You Must Track

I am talking about titles you will need to know when you break into the business — for general meetings, script meetings, OWA meetings, and as noted for your own benefit as a writer. What have writers and filmmakers done before? What commonalities can you find between them? What differences? What is the core content you must know in order to be able to give yourself a decent shot at nailing a script within a particular genre?

Genre Essentials: If you read, watch and analyze these, you will give yourself a foundation upon which you can build your understanding of one or more of the eight genres in which Hollywood traffics.

This week: Action.

Today: 10 Action Movie You Must See.

Please post your suggestions in comments. Tomorrow and the rest of the week, let’s do our best to generate quality suggestions for the other categories.

On Sunday, July 15, I will post the Genre Essentials: Action list.

Next week: Comedy.

Note: Some people have asked to do a Genre Essential list for Romantic Comedy. I’m fine with that. Are there other Sub-Genres or Cross Genres we should add? Given how popular they are nowadays, perhaps Action Thriller.

Genre Essentials

July 2nd, 2012 by

I have gotten to know a lot of screenwriters through the years including many of those who have broken into the business recently. In talking with or interviewing them, there is one thing I find they have in common: They know their stuff, particularly about the genre in which they write.

This is important: When you are writing an original screenplay within a specific genre, you really should know the heart, soul and guts of that genre. This will inform every step of your creative and writing process: concept, character development, brainstorming, plotting, tone, style, atmosphere, voice, pace, and so on. There are certain attributes common to certain genres, and you need to know as much about them as possible, if you want to follow, reverse or break those conventions.

Obviously you can’t read and watch everything, but isn’t there a way to cover the essentials?

Which led me to a new GITS series: Genre Essentials.

Take the eight most common genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller.

Combine with five content areas: Movies, Scripts, Books [Fiction], Books [Non-Fiction], Resource.

Use the suggestions of the GITS community to generate a list of essential study for each genre.

Here is the schedule:

July 9-July 13: Action
July 16-July 20: Comedy
July 23-July 27: Drama
July 30-August 3: Family
August 6-10: Fantasy
August 13-17: Horror
August 20-24: Science Fiction
August 27-31: Thriller

For this to work, we all need to pitch in with suggestions. This is especially true for those of you who are fans of a certain genre. I’m asking every GITS reader to spend some time over the July 4th holiday week thinking up useful titles for these:

– 10 Movies You Must See

– 10 Scripts You Must Analyze

– 10 Books [Fiction] You Must Read

– 10 Book [Non-Fiction] You Must Cover

– 10 Resources [Blogs, Websites, Journals, Magazines] You Must Track

I am talking about titles you will need to know when you break into the business — for general meetings, script meetings, OWA meetings, and as noted for your own benefit as a writer. What have writers and filmmakers done before? What commonalities can you find between them? What differences? What is the core content you must know in order to be able to give yourself a decent shot at nailing a script within a particular genre?

Genre Essentials: If you read, watch and analyze these, you will give yourself a foundation upon which you can build your understanding of one or more of the eight genres in which Hollywood traffics.

So calling all GITS readers! Next Monday, we start with The 10 Action Movies You Must See.

Why movie story types?

October 23rd, 2011 by

This week, I picked up on a series I started awhile back: Movie Story Types. What’s the reasoning behind that? Two things:

* To get you to think like agents, managers, producers, and studio execs think.

* To help you brainstorm story concepts.

Per the former, when an industry insider considers a script, pitch, novel, non-fiction book or any other type of project, invariably one of their considerations will be its story type or genre. Why? Because they are mindful of what types are hot in the current marketplace. Because they know what genres studios need to fill to balance out their development slates. Because they are always looking for a new spin on a familiar story type. In other words, when an agent, manager, producer or studio executive thinks about a story, one way they look at it is through the lens of genre or story type. Therefore from a screenwriting standpoint, it behooves you to grasp that mindset.

But how can movie story types, genres, sub-genres and cross-genres help with developing story concepts? In a word: brainstorming. And how to brainstorm with story types? Here are a few tips:

* Genre-Bend: Take a successful story concept and switch its genre. Tootsie as a revenge. Fatal Attraction as a comedy. Date Night as a thriller.

* Gender-Bend: Shift the gender of a lead character. The Expendables as women. Bridesmaids as men.

* Age Up/Age Down: Moneyball with Little League players = Bad News Bears. Horrible Bosses with high school kids becomes a variation of Teaching Miss Tingle.

* Stereo Types: Take one movie story type (Contained Thriller) and partner it with another story type (Post-Apocalypse), then you have Seth & Jay vs the Apocalypse.

* Mix and Match: Take a genre and match it with a story type. For example, Action with Body Switch and you have Face/Off. Western and Time Travel = Back to the Future 3.

If you do like I do with the annual A Story Idea Each Day for a Month series — you can check out the 2010 list here and the 2011 list here — you can literally take a story idea and go through every permutation of genre, gender, age, and type to come up with dozens of variations. Each becomes the potential starting point to develop a story concept.

It’s the grand old Hollywood tradition of recycling ideas and plays directly into the wheelhouse of the movie studio business ethos: similar but different.

So I will continue to post movie story types for the next few weeks. And if you want add some, please do so in comments.

For the entire list of Movie Story Types, which I am updating weekly with these new posts, you can go here.