• Jason Kyle

DO YOU NEED A GENRE?

5 Industry Experts Give Advice on Samples and Picking Your "Lane"


I looove watching It’s Always Sunny, Atlanta, Mad Men and The West Wing. Four shows in four different genres with four different tones. But if I’m a writer looking to break into the biz and land my first rep, should I try to write samples in each one of these genres?


This is a Q we get all the time from creators:


“Should I write in different genres and formats, or stick to one?”

In terms of career strategy, it’s wise to hone in on a specific genre/format (i.e. hour-long drama, multi-cam comedy, half-hour dramedy, etc). This way, when reps, showrunners, execs need that specific thing (that YOU write in YOUR unique voice) they’ll know exactly who to call.


...YOU!


One thing is for sure: when you’re a newer writer trying to break in, you need a killer sample. Your sample will serve three main functions:


  1. Getting you repped

  2. Getting you staffed

  3. Establishing your brand


I asked a few of my industry pals for their take on this topic.



Q: What should writers do when focusing on finding a rep?


“In order to get an agent, you need to start with one really GREAT sample. You are probably more likely to get there by focusing on the genre that you're strongest in. If you're a comedy nerd, focus on a great comedy sample. If you're a drama geek, try to write a great drama script. Keep in mind, most writers crank out about five scripts before they have one that is ‘quality.’ It makes some sense to do all five in the same genre, and hone your craft in one area.”

Brent Forrester Head Writer: The Office, Love, Space Force


“Since our industry is incredibly competitive, emerging writers should focus initially on samples in the one genre they are most passionate about. It helps establish their identity in the marketplace which will be very useful as they build their network of industry relationships to secure work….I also believe it helps build and define a writer’s personal brand, which is cultivated by time and a lot of hard work. Once a writer builds brand recognition, then they can decide if they want to expand into other genres.”

Sandra Avila

Partner / Manager, Inclusion Management


“I want to read the script that provides the best idea/sense of the creator's voice. Agents only have so much bandwidth, so regardless of the genre, I want to read a voice and point of view that stands out.”

Danny Alexander

Literary Agent, APA



Q: How about getting staffed?


“Showrunners often ask for two writing samples, but in my experience they will make their decision about your writing after reading just one. For your second writing sample, if you have to choose between giving a comedy showrunner a great drama sample or a mediocre comedy sample, give them the great drama over the mediocre comedy.”

Brent Forrester Head Writer: The Office, Love, Space Force