On Writing : What is 'high concept', and how do I get it? by Daisy White

What is 'high concept', and how do I get it?

Hi All, just had the feedback from the Book Pipeline Contest from 2015 on my YA. I'm really happy with it, and great to get some advice. I want to learn from it, but don't quite understand it...doh! Please can someone explain the high concept bit? I'm guessing it needs more depth? Complex plotting? Roadkill: Live Wire The “Live Wire” social network aspect of this plot feels like it gives this project a fresh angle; we’re fundamentally seeing a relatively interesting YA mystery here, but the writer’s inclusion of this detail, along with the larger serial killer/Kelly element suggest a well-plotted book. But these elements don’t feel like they elevate the project much beyond a straightforward mystery, and while the YA market is moving towards more grounded stories (i.e., away from vampires and dystopian futures), this piece doesn’t quite feel high concept enough to attract attention from producers and studios. Close, though. The author is certainly on the right track. But the project doesn’t feel like an ideal option for adaptation at this time.

Beth Fox Heisinger

"High concept" means the emphasis is on a striking and easily communicable idea; its potential is obvious. The premise of a high concept is unique and original, and has mass audience appeal. :) When I read over your review, it seems the reviewer felt it wasn't unique enough; "...these elements don’t feel like they elevate the project much beyond a straightforward mystery." However, the reviewer also seemed to like the piece stating; "The author is certainly on the right track." I hope that helps. I'm sure others could better clarify.

Regina Lee

I'm not saying high concept is "better or worse" than a less conceptual story. Here's an extreme example to help answer the question. High concept: The President is kidnapped from the White House. Less conceptual: An important businessman is kidnapped in Washington, DC. I can see the "movie poster" or the "book cover" of the High Concept idea more clearly, but is it a stronger story? Is there a bigger, clearer, or more appropriate target market? You'd have to read both and decide for yourself.

Jeff Lyons

I hear you :) Here's an article I write a few years ago for Writers Digest Mag ... it breaks down the concept for novelists, but this all applies to any writing form, including screenplays. This is not self-promotion, it just responds to your question ... hopefully it won't get bumped to the stage. :) http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/write-better-the-7-qualities-...

Daisy White

Thanks guys that is really helpful! Jeff - great article too ;-) The competition just opened again for this year so I might submit something else based on what I have learnt...

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