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Tutorial on Screenwriting Genres part 4, plus bonuses!

Ozoneocean at 6:34AM, April 2, 2012

This is the 4th and last of Banes' screenwriting tutorials. We round up here with the final two story genres; “Superhero” and “Institutionalised”, rounded out with some more useful time and tricks on writing in general! This series has been part of the Quackcast screenwriting month, beginning with Quackcast 68 and ending with Quackcast 71.

(5 star average out of 3 votes)

By Banes, talented screenwriter:

From Quackcast 71!

Tutorial on Screenwriting Genres part 4
…plus bonuses!

This is the final part of our series on screenwriting structure and screenwriting genres Well finish genres and then talk a bit about general writing stuff at the bottom! Thatll be bonus material at the bottom, stuff that wasnt in the Quackcast. Hope you enjoy it! Weve talked about structure. Weve talked about genre! Weve listed many movies! Now, lets finish up!


Ahhh, the group! Isnt it comforting! How I love it! Security! Strength in numbers!

Isnt it stifling?!? I HATE it sometimes! Conformity! Soullessness! Fascism!

This genres all about group dynamics. Often how the individual functions in and against the group.

The difficulties of the individual and the group can make for wonderful drama - to join or not to join.

This genre contains explorations of individuals overcoming the group…or perhaps being absorbed into the group. Or perhaps killed…

Certain character types can be handy in these tales -

The Naive Newcomer - who comes in and learns the rules of the Institution
The Rebel - who…well, rebels!
A COMPANY MAN, an individual who represents the power of the group.

The GROUP could be an official institution like the military, a corporation, or…an actual institution (see One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest),
…but it can also be a family!

The ELEMENTS of this genre are:
- A CHOICE, which pits the individual against the group
- A SACRIFICE, which leads to either JOINING the group, DESTROYING the group, or…the DEATH of the INDIVIDUAL.

Institutionalized is definitely a genre of sophisticated, interesting stories!

There are many diverse examples, including these subgenres…

MILITARY INSTITUTION: as seen in MASH, Platoon, TAPS, Full Metal Jacket, A Few Good Men and The Men Who Stare at Goats

FAMILY INSTITUTION: The Godfather, The Royal Tenenbaums, Goodfellas, American Beauty, As for series, the great Arrested Development goes here!

BUSINESS INSTITUTION: Glengarry Glen Ross, Office Space (yyyyyyyeah), Network, Article 99, and the series The Office, ….oh yeah, also The Paper! (I knew wed get Michael Keaton in here somewhere! Youre 4 for 4, buddy! Whooo!)

It also includes stories of INDOCTRINATION, where one person represents the establishment. Thats called–

MENTOR INSTITUTION: Training Day, Apt Pupil, The Devil Wears Prada, and Wall Street
And finally;

ISSUE INSTITUTION: where several characters have intertwining stories revolving around an Issue, such as in CRASH, Magnolia, Short Cuts, and Syriana

Example on Drunk Duck

Its tough to get a feel for whether a comic series is this genre, without digging in pretty deep, which I havent had time to do. Also, since comics are ongoing, finding their genres can be a little tougher.

But theres a good chance BASO by Genejoke fits


And probably;

Corporate Life by corporate_life



Face front, True Believers! Once again, its SUPERHERO time!

This is about an extraordinary individual…or sometimes a team.

Theyre not exactly Gods, but they certainly arent ordinary shmucks like the rest of us!

Its not easy being special, and other than brightly colored leotards, thats what this genre is about…the extraordinary person, powers and responsibilities, and also the difficulties and how these poor folks are greater than the rest of us…and that they cant be one of us because of that.

Also, the bright leotards.

Actually, the genre includes those comic book superheroes, of course, but also includes extraordinary civilians like Zorro and even the classic monsters like Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein! And the Invisible Man! And the Mummy! And the–

Ahem. Sorry. I love the Universal Monsters.


THE PEOPLES SUPERHERO - Robin Hood, Zorro, Gladiator, The Three Muskateers, The Patriot

STORYBOOK SUPERHERO - The Lion King, Mulan, Peter Pan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Harry Potter, The Little Mermaid.

REAL LIFE SUPERHERO - Ghandi, Joan of Arc, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind, Malcolm X, Che

COMIC BOOK SUPERHERO - Iron Man, Batman, Superman, Spiderman, X-Men, The Avengers, Catwoman, Elektra, Thor, Captain America, The Green Whatever(*this list is heavily copyrighted).

THE FANTASY SUPERHERO - The Matrix, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Nightmare Before Christmas, ANTZ, Underworld, Hook, and of course the Universal Monsters I mentioned go here. Not the Blob, though. :-(

An interesting example is DEXTER. That series is a superhero story, kind of a classic in a way. The trappings are different, the tone is different, but its a superhero story through n through. Seasons 1 - 4. You wont regret it!

Example on Drunk Duck

There are lots! One that comes to mind is the recently featured

El Esqueleto the Skeleton by grindhouse comics




Hope you got something out of this.


And now…


Heres some guidance from the old time powerhouse screenwriter and director Billy Wilder
Its excellent advice, very very helpful!

Screenwriting tips from Billy Wilder:

The audience is fickle.
Grab em by the throat and never let em go.
Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
Know where youre going.
The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. Theyll love you forever.
In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what theyre seeing.
The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then -
- thats it. Dont hang around.


That says a TON. Wow!

Thats a list Im gonna hang on my wall for my next script, along with the story beats from our first save the cat tutorial!


Some thoughts for writing comics…

1. DONT MAKE US READ (so much)!
No walls of text. Tons of dialogue and exposition is not good, especially right up front. Its hard to get through and I for one almost never read em. Start with DRAMA (by which I mean conflict and characters).

Dont try to explain the history and rules of your world right away. ITS PRETTY MUCH NEVER INTERESTING. You gotta pepper that info throughout your story in bits and pieces!

Keep your stories pushing forward. Its got to be going somewhere, or people get bored! Beats have to happen, things have to change and deepen!

SOMETHING should be happening on every page. A story beat, joke, conflict…some kind of CHANGE, hopefully.

Show, dont tell. Characters (or captions) saying Jane is happy or Jane is a good listener in class ……is generally not good. You gotta SHOW that stuff.


Thanks for checking this out. I hope you got something out of it….just talking about this and writing it down helped me get this stuff deeper into my bones.

See you another time!

all the best,




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