How important is it for a writer trying to break into the business to pick one genre and stick to it? You’ve had a lot of success writing all sorts of different stories, but isn’t that unusual? Isn’t it better to become a "brand name," so to speak? I imagine the suits saying, "Let’s get that new guy who wrote that great heist script to rewrite our Die Hard on a Carnival Cruise project."


It’s true that some writers prefer to write in certain genres, and others seem to have the choice made for them. Early on, I got pigeon-holed as a family film guy, because the first two movies I was paid to write were kiddie lit adaptations.

I have nothing against the family film genre — in fact, I think it’s one of the most difficult genres to write well — but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career charting the inner turmoil of ten-year olds. My script for GO was, on some levels, a calculated move to get producers and executives in Hollywood to notice me as a more versatile, and hireable, writer.

So should your second script, or your third script, be the same genre as your first? Only if that’s what you most want to write.

Writing a script is a huge commitment of time and brain-space, so you better be sure any project you’re working on is really going to hold your attention draft after draft. If, after finishing one broad comedy, you have a great idea for another, don’t immediately kill it because you should "really" be working on a thriller.

The right genre is the one that will actually get you to fire up your word processor, rather than surf the internet.