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Should You Pick A Screenplay Genre Because It’s Marketable?


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by Script Reader Pro in How To Write A Screenplay
November 1, 2010 3 comments
screenplay genre

Today we’re going to take a look at choosing a screenplay genre in relation to the spec script market and how to sell a screenplay. Part of the art to selling a screenplay is obviously having a great script. But one of the main factors which constitutes a whether it will sell or not is its marketability.

Let’s say you’re knocking around a few ideas for a new one and haven’t actually started writing yet. Should you go for a high concept thriller just because it’s a marketable screenplay genre? Or the personal drama you feel really passionate about?

Ideally, you want to write a spec script in a screenplay genre that’s both highly marketable and which you feel passionate about enough to spend the next six months of your life writing.

Screenplay Genre Hollywood Marketability Breakdown

Firstly, let’s take a look at the top four script genre categories which are selling in Hollywood today:

  1. Action
  2. Thrillers / Horror
  3. Comedy
  4. Drama

As you can see, thanks to the biggest demographic of people who go to movie theatres—teenage boys—Action scripts are what’s hot right now.

Some years ago it was Horrors and Horror / Thrillers. Now it’s Action and Thrillers. In fact, many writers are going back to their Horror scripts and lightening them up into Thrillers.

Comedies are always a popular screenplay genre and still sell well, but it’s Action and Thriller screenplays that are getting the lion’s share of options.

Drama, as ever, is a notoriously hard script genre to sell. Unless you’ve already got a track record as a successful screenwriter, it’s very unlikely that your spec Drama script will be purchased.

However, if you have a great story that’s exceptionally well written and you feel passionate about, by all means write it. The passion will come out in your writing and that counts for a lot.

Don’t Make Script Genre Marketability Be Your Deciding Factor On What To Write

No screenplay you write is a screenplay wasted. It’s all part of the learning curve — another script towards the three or more you need in your portfolio in order to be taken seriously in Hollywood.

And besides, even if it’s not sold, providing it’s supremely well written, you can use it as a writing sample to get other writing gigs — rewriting existing scripts or polishing dialogue etc.

So, our advice is, if you want to get your screenplay optioned, or get an agent or manager, choose a story and a screenplay genre that producers, managers and agents are actually looking for.

It’s a hard enough process as it is without making them even harder by writing a period drama set in 1906 inter-weaving the life histories of three Alabama sisters.

On the other hand, if you feel like you just have to write that Drama script, go for it. But approach it as a sample of your writing chops rather than a possible sale.


Do  you agree? Do you think you should focus on writing in a screenplay genre that the industry’s actually looking for? Or do you think you should always go with a “passion project” because that will bring out your best writing? Let us know in the comments section below! 

  1. Jane North says:

    You guys really know your stuff when it comes to screenwriting! Thanks for the posts, you’re helping me with my script no end. Keep it up!

  2. Henry says:

    You people have blessed my day a lot, had it been that i have come across this website a little longer than now, hounestly i would have gone far, all thesame thanks for your help.

    1. SRP says:

      Thanks for the support, Henry!

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