Find the “Fun” in Your Story

Read many screenplays (even by experienced screenwriters) and you’ll often run into scenes that serve no other purpose than to introduce information either background exposition or character exposition.

While exposition is necessary to understand the story, bland, blatant exposition is as exciting to see as reading a dictionary. Instead, bury exposition within a dramatic scene. In other words, find what makes your story “fun” and that’s what you want to emphasize in every scene as much as possible.

Every story often consists of a main genre and a subgenre. The main genre defines the overall story while the subgenre defines how to tell that main story.

For example, “Ghostbusters” is a comedy-horror story. The main genre is comedy but the story relies on horror elements to tell the story.

As a comedy, “Ghostbusters” is about a bunch of kooks and academic scammers running a business to hunt down ghosts like pest control technicians. Comedies are about serious characters pursuing absurd goals or finding themselves in absurd situations.

As a horror story, “Ghostbusters” is about an evil entity that’s trying to open a portal between dimensions and take over the world.

So notice how every scene in “Ghostbusters” meets either of those genres. The opening scene shows a librarian alone while strange supernatural events occur around her with increasing intensity. That’s horror.

Then the next scene shows Bill Murray trying to hit on a pretty co-ed and electrocuting a boy to get him to leave. To do that, he’s lying about the boy’s guesses. That’s comedy.

Every scene in “Ghostbusters” is either comedy or horror. Sometimes the comedy or horror isn’t blatant but it’s there.

For example, in a later scene, the mayor is talking to the Ghostbusters about the ghosts running all over the city. That’s comedy because the characters are completely serious but they’re discussing an absurd situation (ghosts running around the city).

Your story’s main genre and subgenre are what makes your story “fun”. An action film’s “fun” is about action, so it’s no surprise that James Bond movies go overboard with plenty of action in almost every scene.

A horror film’s “fun” is scaring the audience and threatening the characters, so horror movies focus on stalking, torturing, and killing people.

So what is the “fun” in your story? To find this, identify the main genre of your story (what your story is about) and your subgenre (how you want to tell that story.

A romantic comedy is about love (main genre) told through humor (subgenre). A romantic drama is also about love (main genre) but told with a serious tone (subgenre).

Your story’s fun is always in your main and subgenre so make sure you know what those are in your story. Once you’re clear what main and subgenre your story is, then you can focus on finding the “fun” in every scene in your screenplay.

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