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The Screenwriters Taxonomy by Eric Williams

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4Genre Case Studies

With what we know of the Screenwriters Taxonomy so far, let’s revisit the call from your agent in Chapter 1. A producer is taking pitches from screenwriters looking to adapt material with a basic premise of: A man, falsely imprisoned, falls victim to the very worst in human behavior before finding his way to freedom and putting his life back together. Using the defining characteristics of super-, macro- and microgenres, let’s examine how this one descriptive sentence can be parsed into three very different films using the first three layers of the Screenwriters Taxonomy.

I would argue that The Shawshank Redemption, Twelve Monkeys and 12 Years a Slave each tell the same general story:

  • A man, falsely imprisoned,
  • falls victim ...

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