A Genre is Not a Franchise

A Genre is Not a Franchise

A genre is not a franchise.

It does not guarantee success like Hollywood seems to think it does.

I’m referring specifically to Divergent, based on the book of the same name by Veronica Roth. I’m starting a new book review web show soon, and Divergent is going to be the first book that I review.

Divergent is a book that wanted to be The Hunger Games, and tried to achieve that by removing all of the things from the story that made The Hunger Games awesome.

However, it’s an international bestseller, and so Hollywood is now coming out with a Divergent movie. But that’s not all — when I went and saw Catching Fire, there was trailer after trailer after trailer of books based on dystopian young adult fiction. It’s like Hollywood saw the wild success of The Hunger Games — which are amazing films based on amazing books — and said, “MOAR.”

But the problem is that the genre is not necessarily an indicator of immediate success.

Hollywood has absolutely done the same thing in the past. Look at Star Wars. After Star Wars, a whole slew of new sci-fi films came out, and you don’t know any of their names better than I do because they sucked, and they weren’t successful just because “sci-fi” was successful.

Even “big names,” another Hollywood staple, aren’t necessarily an indicator of success — after Stephenie Meyer made all of the money in the world with the Twilight books and then movies, she then turned one of her follow-up books, The Host, into a film.

It was a flop.

But once again, Hollywood isn’t learning the lessons they should be.

You out there, aspiring filmmaker or novelist, you, too, should be learning these lessons. Because you might be tempted to write a dystopian YA-type script to cash in on this hype.

But the mainstays of the film industry and your own career are the same as they’ve always been — quality products, time and time again. I’m not even saying you can’t get in on the action — I’m just saying that the most important part of your film needs to be that it is GOOD, not that it’s dystopian young woman romance.

There is a massive tendency in humanity to go for flash-in-the-pan overnight successes by leaping on whatever artistic bandwagon looks comfortable and successful. People have probably been doing it since the first bandwagon was invented (which I guess was, what, “write a Greek tragedy?”)

But in the arts, the most important thing to your LONG TERM success is delivering quality, then doing it again, and again.

Do that, and you’ll win.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.


One of the things that finally got me off my ass to start writing novels is that I wasn't seeing enough of the novels I wanted to read.  Rather than chase an over-done genre segment, I want to go after the under-served genre segments that I want more of.  

Write the book you want to read.  If nothing else, you'll get to read a book you really like.


@danamongden  Not to sound all 'internetty', but "This x1000."  This is exactly the point I have made with people time and time again.  Write what you want to read.  That doesn't mean "constrain yourself to what you like"—sometimes the best results are had writing outside of your preference or area of expertise... but writing in the way that you yourself like—but it does, in some meaningful way, mean "You should almost always write the book you'd want to read."

Hear, hear.


Share This