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Romance + Comedy = Romantic Comedy. Comedy + Crime = Caper

The Caper Story is also known as a Heist.

The Thriller is sometimes also called Suspense.

Crime is a subcategory of Mystery

Noir is the only ‘genre’ made up entirely by film critics.

The three most metaphorical genres are Horror, Science Fiction and Westerns.

The three ‘suspense genres’ are mystery, crime and thriller.

Psychological Thrillers emphasize the unstable psychological and emotional states of its characters. Similarities to Gothic and detective fiction in that there is sometimes a dissolving sense of reality. The setting is usually domesticated. The main characters are usually obsessed/tortured/sociopathic. Unreliable narratives are common. e.g. Psycho, Homeland, pretty much everything by Stephen King, Henry James, Patricia Highsmith.The work of Agatha Christie are examples of Cosy Mysteries.

The most popular form of storytelling worldwide is the Police Procedural.

Hard-boiled Detective stories are a subcategory of Detective stories, but feature a tough cop with a moral view of hard-won experience. While he almost always sees justice prevail, there is usually a bittersweet resolution.

Detective is a subcategory of Mystery.

A Police Procedural is much like a Hard-boiled Detective Story but with a larger cast and a special focus on police tactics, squad-room psychology, station-house politics and the tensions between police/politicians/media/citizenry.

The Courtroom Drama is a subgenre of Mystery/Detective.

The Gangster Story is a subcategory of Crime.

In a Romantic Comedy two lovers generally meet at the Catalyst and are thrown together by the Big Event. But the Back Story gives rise to a flaw which interferes with love. Even so, they fall in love anyway at the Midpoint (at least one does), and are separated at the Crisis. In the Showdown, one or both overcomes the flaw and they come together. In the end, the Realization comes that they will live happily ever after.Noir is also known as Transgression Thriller.

All Gangster Stories are about success in the modern world, shorthanded as “the American Dream,” and how that Dream has been corrupted from its original idea of success as spiritual attainment to success as material gain.

In the Action genre, a hero attempts to right an injustice and ends up either putting his world to rights, or not. It’s a straightforward genre. Since stories in this genre are about justice, that’s why they’re popular.

An Epic Thriller usually concerns the threat of some catastrophe affecting whole communities, cities, countries, even the planet. The threat need not be total devastation—the assassination of a leader will do—but the effect of the action must be profound.

Die Hard is a classic example of the Action genre.

There are two quite different genres which have something in common: They both involve the wearing of some kind of mask, which comes off at some point to reveal the true person underneath. Those two genres are Comedy and Noir/Transgression Thriller.

Titanic is a blend of (Disaster) Action  and Love.

Avatar is an Epic Romance. In this kind of story the fate of the nation (or world) is determined by the love between two people. It’s very hard to get right but if done right it has wide appeal.

Superhero Stories are a sub-form of the Action genre with a number of Fantasy and Horror elements thrown in.

Date Night is an example of a genre blend difficult to get right: Comedy and Thriller. This blend used to be more popular and Hitchcock did it for an appreciative audience but modern audiences don’t tend to like it much.

Black comedy is the comedy of the logic—or more exactly, the illogic—of a system. This advanced and difficult form of storytelling is designed to show that destruction is the result not so much of individual choice (like tragedy) but of individuals caught in a system that is innately destructive.

When the creator of Desperate Housewives pitched the show as a Comedy, no networks were interested. But when he re-pitched it as a Satire it was picked up immediately.

A Buddy Story is actually a combination of three genres: Action, Love and Comedy.

A Buddy Cop Story is a combination of three slightly different genres: Action, Love and Crime.

Farce is different from most comedies in that, in most stories, the audience learns information at the same time as the hero. But in this subgenre of Comedy, the audience is always in a superior position.

The premise of a Switch Comedy is that the hero suddenly discovers they’ve been changed into being something or someone else. Mark Twain was a master of the technique. Tootsie and Big are more recent examples.

In its original sense, a Shaggy Dog story is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax or a pointless punchline.

Technically, Masterpiece is not a true genre — this refers to advanced screenwriting that in many ways goes beyond genre. Writing one of these means creating complex characters, inventing your own story structures, tracking twisted moral arcs, and expressing the big themes. In all of these stories the hero is trapped in a system.

For critical success in film world you need to combine one or more genres with Drama.

The Epic story has a large scale. There will be a large arena — probably with a limited arena and a seemingly endless number of satellite arenas (e.g. Harry Potter). The setting will often be a time of war or some other societal crisis. The story will typically take place over a long stretch of time. The central conflict of the film is usually seen as having far-reaching effects, often changing the course of history. The main characters’ actions are often central to the resolution of the central conflict.

Melodrama is about extremes, whereas drama isn’t about absolute right and wrong.

The heroes of Coming-Of-Age stories are typically teenagers. Almost without exception, coming of age stories are about the transition from adolescence to adulthood, from being defined by family or society to defining oneself. The hero is somewhere between 10-years-old (Elliott in E.T.) and late teens (the four heroes of American Graffiti).

The Bildungsroman is a specific subgenre of coming-of-age story. It is especially prominent in literature and focuses on the protagonist’s psychological and moral growth, and thus character change is extremely important.


Some combinations of genre are more successful than others. Comic by Poorly Drawn Lines