Friday, May 25, 2012

What is High Concept?

            High Concept is fast becoming one of the number one most wanted types of stories out there. Publishers go gaga over them and agents are getting better at picking them all the time. That’s all good and all, but the idea of just what high concept has become a bane upon the writer’s existence.

            If you ever felt like this, you’re not alone. The high concept curse had befuddled many writers because it’s so difficult to define. In fact it’s so hard, that it’s easier to simply come up with a set of rules instead.

Rule 1: It’s original.

            Like the boy who lived, the story idea has to be original. If it’s a copy of the story, the concept loses the high factor. Twilight, while one of the most controversial novels due to its glittering blood suckers, was very original. Since its release, the genre of paranormal romance had to be opened up in the young adult section.

Rule 2: It has mass appeal.

            Originality can only get a book so far. There still needs to be a mass appeal so it can be marketed well. One novel that’s a great example here is the recent smash hit, Hunger Games. What if this novel was only about a person going hungry and seeing different type of foods that one could eat. It’s original, but not a lot a market for it. Now toss in kids being forced to kill each other for government entertainment, and we have a story.

Rule 3: It’s simple.

            For mass appeal, the novel needs to be very simple. The easier it is to understand, the easier it is to sell. And selling is the name of the game. Basically we want to keep the pitch down to 3 or less sentences—and having a catchy title never hurts.

            So now you have the rules. If you’re like how I was, you might be very resistant to this type of writing. Why dumb down your writing, right? Well that’s not the point of High Concept. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s not about dumbing anything down. It’s about reaching as many people as possible with our words. If we look at it from that point of view, it makes total sense.   

         I hope this helps. And as always, feel free to comment.

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