Everything in story flows from its genre. The problem is that there is no standard definition of what genre is, or how it works. So, this season, Valerie and Melanie did a deep dive into dozens of theory concepts to find the best approach to genre for writers (because the marketing approach is very different from the writer’s approach). What they discovered may surprise you. 

In this episode, Valerie and Melanie review their key takeaways from the ten films they studied this season. Tune in to learn their best advice for authors, ah-ha moments and resource recommendations.

Dune is a true feast for the eyes, and it’s got the Oscars to prove it. However, none of the awards (or nominations) were for the writing and there’s an obvious reason for that. Join Valerie and Melanie as they do a deep dive into the storytelling aspect of this popular film.

Oh dear. The scales have fallen from Melanie’s eyes this week as she analyzed one of her favourite films. The “spectacle” of film sure does make the movie-going experience a whole lot of fun, but when we strip away the soundtrack, the CGI, the costumes and the actors we admire, we’re left with the story. Sometimes that makes us love our favourite stories even more, and sometimes it doesn’t.

There’s no question that Aaron Sorkin is a master storyteller, and the craft on display here is next level stuff. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean the story works. In this episode, Melanie attempts to untangle the genre while Valerie discusses the hazards of prioritizing elevated writing technique over fundamental storytelling basics.

While this film may not be listed among Pixar’s Top 10, there’s still plenty to love about Turning Red and we need more stories that explore these themes. From a craft perspective, Melanie sees it as a good example of how the beginning of a story sets up the end, and Valerie considers whether the red panda is a metaphor that works.

In this episode, Melanie takes us on a deep dive of spy stories, their conventions and subgenres. It turns out that what we usually think of as spy stories might not be spy stories at all! Meanwhile, Valerie examines the testing plot and offers advice about how to write historical fiction that works.

West Side Story (2021) has been lauded for its depiction of race and racial tension, but how has it handled the love story? In his retelling of this age-old story, did Spielberg innovate the genre or did he perpetuate stereotypes?

A story makes one point. If your story is about everything, then it’s about nothing. Understanding genre is a vital skill for writers because everything in a story flows from it; it’s the key to telling a story in an entertaining and effective way. Can you boil your story down to one idea? Does your choice of genre help your story make its point?

Join literary editors and writers, Valerie Francis and Melanie Hill, as they analyze a film a week as an example of a storytelling principle. If you want to spend more time writing and less time studying, this show is for you.

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