Every story falls within a specific genre such as action/thriller, mystery, horror, comedy, or romance. Then many stories offer a subgenre as well. For example, “Rocky” is a boxing movie (action) but also includes a love story between Rocky pursuing Adrian (romance). On the other hand, “Alien” could be considered a combination horror/mystery.
No matter which genre and subgenre you choose for your story, the one key is that every scene must reflect your main genre and your subgenre. This provides consistency throughout your story.
Imagine you’re writing a horror/comedy like “Ready Or Not,” which is about a bride being hunted by her in-laws in a mansion on her wedding night. Every scene must then reflect horror or comedy. If a scene doesn’t reflect horror or comedy, then it will feel out of place and doesn’t belong. By analyzing each scene based on your main genre and subgenre, you can identify which scenes don’t belong and which scenes need reworking.
In “Ready Or Not,” an early scene shows the hero (the bride) posing for pictures while staring at the dour face of an elderly grandmother, which is both humorous and horrifying at the same time. In another scene, the bride has to play hide and seek so she runs off and hides. This might seem bland until the scene suddenly shifts to all her in-laws grabbing crossbows, battle axes, and pistols to look for her. This is pure horror.
Great movies typically offer a main genre and a subgenre that creates a richer, more complex story world. Notice every scene in “Rocky” is either about action and potential violence, or romance. An early scene in “Rocky” shows Rocky acting as a thug for a mobster. Then a later scene totally shifts tone to where Rocky is alone with Adrian in a skating rink, which is all about pursuing romance.
By focusing on a main genre and a subgenre, you can insure that every scene reflects either one or both genres of your story. Your genre and subgenre can help shape your story so you don’t stray from your story’s promise.
Imagine writing a horror movie, which promises danger and suspense. Suddenly if you have a scene that’s nothing but romance or comedy, it risks seeming out of place with the rest of the scenes.
The key is simply consistency. You can lose your audience by writing scenes inconsistent with the tone of the rest of your story, but you won’t necessarily hold an audience by writing scenes that are consistent with your story’s overall tone.
So be consistent. Just as people prefer dealing with others who are consistent (rather than erratic and unpredictable), so do audiences want a movie that delivers on its initial promise. Are you promising horror? Comedy? Romance? Whatever you’re promising through your genre and subgenre, make sure you deliver it.