The Chicken or the Genre?

MA Writing for Script & Screen: Year 1 Module 2 Week 5

This week was pitch assignment week. Having delivered my pitch for my romcom to my tutor, I received feedback which forced me to learn defining qualities of other dramas.

What I mean is, I’d pitched it as a romcom, for which I’d learned and memorised the necessary defining qualities.

However, my tutor suggested my story might actually be a personal drama as the romcom shares screen time between the two central characters, whereas my story seemed to weight slightly more in favour of the male. I suggested that Notting Hill (1999 dir. Roger Michell, screenplay by Richard Curtis) follows the male story and screen time is probably slightly more balanced in favor of the male there as well. Although my tutor agreed he still felt the personal drama might give me more ‘space to breathe.’

So, I returned to Phil Parker’s genre breakdowns and realised my story has defining qualities of three genres: the personal ‘inner’ drama, the romantic drama, and the romcom.

This led me to wondering what comes first, the genre or the story?

Should a writer write the story first, and then see which genre/s fit? Or should we decide on a genre/s and write the story to fit the defining qualities of the drama?

The ol’ chicken egg question.

What do you think? Which comes first, the story or the genre?

What do you think?

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