Skip to content


  • Updated:

Home > Glossary > > Genre

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us at no cost to you. You can read our full affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

Understanding Genre in Screenwriting

Genre in screenwriting refers to the category or type of film or television show, such as action, adventure, comedy, drama, or horror. It plays a crucial role in structuring a screenplay and helps guide a story’s tone, style, and the audience’s expectations.

Genre is like a label for screenplays. It tells us what kind of movie it will be. Thrillers are scary and keep you on the edge of your seat. Romantic comedies make you laugh and feel good about love.

Elements like characters, storylines, plots, and settings are all influenced by the genre chosen by the screenwriter.

Each genre has rules called conventions that make them special from others. Marketing a movie is easier when people know its genre because they know what to expect from it. This means certain types of movies draw specific crowds to watch them.

Knowing the genre can also help writers stick to the plot patterns and character types that viewers like in such stories.

YouTube player

Elements of genre (character, story, plot, setting)

Genres in screenwriting are characterized by certain key elements that shape the overall narrative and style of a screenplay. These elements include:

  1. Characters: Each genre has its own specific types of characters that are commonly found within it. For example, action films often feature brave and skilled heroes, while horror movies often have vulnerable and terrified protagonists.
  2. Story: The storyline of a screenplay is influenced by the genre it falls into. Genres like comedy tend to focus on humorous situations and light-hearted conflicts, while dramas explore complex emotions and personal journeys.
  3. Plot: The plot structure can vary depending on the genre. Thrillers typically involve suspenseful twists and turns, while adventure stories often follow a hero’s journey through dangerous obstacles.
  4. Setting: The setting plays an important role in establishing the atmosphere and tone of a screenplay. Genres like westerns are often set in the Wild West with cowboys and gunslingers, while science fiction takes place in futuristic worlds or alternate realities.

How genre helps structure a screenplay

Genres play a crucial role in structuring a screenplay. They provide a framework and guidelines for writers to create engaging stories. Each genre has its own conventions and narrative patterns that can be used or subverted to shape the story.

For example, action films usually have intense fighting sequences, while comedies focus on humor and funny situations. By understanding these genre-specific elements, screenwriters can develop characters and plotlines that resonate with audiences.

Additionally, genres help filmmakers determine the tone, style, and target audience of their screenplay. It’s important to note that while genres offer structure, writers should also bring their unique perspective to their work to keep it fresh and original.

Popular Screenplay Genres

Popular screenplay genres include action, adventure, comedy, drama, and horror.

YouTube player


Action is a popular genre in screenwriting that focuses on exciting and thrilling sequences, such as car chases, fights, and explosions. It typically involves a hero or protagonist who faces dangerous obstacles and uses their physical skills to overcome them.

Action films often include high-stakes situations and intense moments of suspense. The genre appeals to audiences who enjoy fast-paced storytelling and adrenaline-pumping action scenes.

Some examples of action movies include the “Mission: Impossible” series, “Die Hard,” and “The Fast and the Furious.”.


Adventure is an exciting genre in screenwriting that involves thrilling journeys and daring escapades. It often features courageous heroesdangerous obstacles, and epic quests. Adventures can take place in different settings such as jungles, mountains, or even outer space.

They are known for their action-packed sequences and high stakes situations that keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Adventure films transport viewers to new worlds and allow them to experience thrilling adventures vicariously through the characters on screen.

Whether it’s a treasure hunt or a perilous expedition, adventure movies provide excitement and entertainment for audiences of all ages.


Comedy is a genre in screenwriting that focuses on making people laugh. It uses humor and funny situations to entertain the audience. Comedy movies often feature witty dialogue, humorous characters, and lighthearted storylines.

Some popular types of comedy include romantic comedies, slapstick comedies, and satirical comedies. The goal of comedy is to bring joy and laughter to viewers. Understanding the conventions and techniques of comedy can help screenwriters create scripts that are both entertaining and humorous.


Drama is a genre in screenwriting that focuses on intense emotions, conflicts, and character development. It explores realistic or fictional situations in a way that creates deep emotional connections with the audience.

Dramas often deal with serious themes such as love, loss, family relationships, and personal struggles. They can be both entertaining and thought-provoking, allowing viewers to empathize with the characters’ experiences.

Dramatic films are known for their compelling storytelling and powerful performances, bringing complex narratives to life on the screen.


Horror is a genre in screenwriting that focuses on creating fear, suspense, and terror in the audience. It often includes elements such as supernatural creatures, psychological horror, and intense violence.

Horror movies aim to frighten and shock viewers by using techniques like jump scares, eerie music, and unsettling visuals. This genre has its own set of conventions, including dark settings, suspenseful pacing, and unexpected plot twists.

Some popular subgenres within horror include slasher films, paranormal movies, and zombie flicks. Understanding the tropes and expectations of horror can help screenwriters create stories that effectively scare audiences while also offering unique perspectives or twists on familiar horror themes.

The Role of Genre in Screenwriting

Genre in screenwriting plays a crucial role in guiding the tone, style, and audience of a screenplay. By using genre conventions, screenwriters can create engaging and relatable stories that resonate with viewers.

YouTube player

How genre guides the tone, style, and audience of a screenplay

Genre plays a vital role in shaping the tone, style, and target audience of a screenplay. Each genre has its own unique characteristics and themes that set the overall mood of the story.

For example, an action screenplay would have fast-paced scenes with thrilling fighting sequences, while a comedy screenplay would focus on humor and lighthearted moments. The choice of genre also helps determine the intended audience for the film.

Different genres appeal to different demographics, so understanding the genre allows filmmakers to create stories that resonate with their target viewers.

Using genre conventions to create engaging and relatable stories

Genre conventions play a crucial role in creating stories that captivate and connect with audiences. By understanding the specific characteristics, themes, and tropes of different genres, screenwriters can use these conventions to craft engaging and relatable stories.

For example, in an action genre, the audience expects high-stakes conflict and intense fighting sequences, while in a romantic comedy, they anticipate love and humor. By adhering to these expectations while also adding fresh elements, writers can strike a balance between familiarity and innovation.

This allows them to create stories that resonate with viewers while still offering surprises and unique perspectives.


In conclusion, genre in screenwriting refers to the category or classification that a screenplay falls into based on its content and style. It helps structure a screenplay and guides the tone, style, and audience of a film.

Understanding genre conventions can help screenwriters create engaging and relatable stories while still bringing their own unique perspective to their work. Genre serves as a framework for storytelling and allows filmmakers and audiences to connect with the stories being told on screen.


What is genre in screenwriting?

Genre in screenwriting tells what type of movie it is, like fantasy, horror, or any other film genre. It guides the narrative structure and story elements.

How does screenplay structure change with genre?

Every movie genre has its unique scriptwriting techniques and screenplay examples that help shape the narrative themes and overall filmmaking process.

Why are conventions of genre important in scriptwriting?

In scriptwriting, using conventions of a specific film genre makes your writing fit in well with subgenres of film and helps viewers know what to expect.

Can one use creative writing while sticking to a certain movie’s genre?

Yes, creative writing can be used within any film genre’s boundaries to make your screenplay stand out, but still feel part of its chosen category.

Is understanding different movie genres helpful for a filmmaker?

Knowing about different movie genres makes you familiar with various narrative structures and gives you more tools for your filmmaking journey.