Monday, August 13, 2012

Got High Concept?

My popular workbook, Got High Concept? is on sale today via Amazon Kindle for $2.99 (normally sales for $4.99)

I’d heard the words “high concept” bandied about in publishing but when I tried to pin people down on the definition, there seemed to be no consensus about what it was. Yet everyone assured me it was an important thing to possess.

Frustrated with the lack of information, I turned to Hollywood for my education. What I found changed my life and the direction of my career. 

But, while there was no dearth of data among scriptwriters about what a high concept was, I still couldn’t find a step-by-step manual on how to construct one. 

I also needed to adapt what I’d discovered about high concept screenplays into novels. They are different mediums and while a lot of things are the same, there are some differences.

Using this method, I sold two novels to Time-Warner books based solely on a 25 word high concept pitch. Not only that, but after the sale was announced on Publishers Marketplace, my agent and I received interest from 9 movie production companies. 

(Sssptt: Also, since I started using the high concept to create my books, I've had zero, yes that's zero, as in no rejections and I've had movie interest in several of my other writing projects.)

That’s when I knew I was onto something and that I had to share my techniques with other writers struggling to understand the high concept.  

What high concept can do for you.

v  Propel your manuscript out of the slush pile.

v  Razzle-dazzle editors.

v  Spur agents to contact you based on a one sentence blurb.

v  Trigger publishers to open their wallets.

v  Rush readers into stores as soon as your book is released.

v  Impress the media.

v  Stimulate industry buzz.

v  Jump-start foreign sales.

v  Earn you a bigger advance.
v  Inspire Hollywood to come knocking.

This method is designed to provide you with the tools you’ll need to mold your story idea into an intriguing one sentence pitch that can magically unlock closed doors. If you put in the time and follow the precepts outlined in my workbook, you’ll be stunned by both the increase in your creativity and the response you’ll see from the publishing industry.

A word of caution. High concept is not a substitute for honing your craft. Rather, it’s simply the most effective way to capture an editor or agent’s interest.

Readers respond to high concepts because we yearn for stories that entertain, teach and provide us with thrills and emotional catharsis. The very best high concepts feature sympathetic characters that we can root for.

Our most beloved protagonists are ordinary Joes or Janes who are moved to accomplish extraordinary things. Or else he is an extraordinary human being whom can give us a taste of who we could really become. Or she is the underdog, with the odds so stacked against her, who makes us feel compassion, admiration and suspense

Contrary to popular notions, high concepts are not limited to over-the-top suspense or thrillers. High concept is at the heart of every genre—romance, mysteries, horror, comedies, westerns, chick-lit, lad-lit, sci-fi, time travel & women’s fiction.

High concept is not just a marketing gimmick. It is the very foundation of great commercial fiction. It’s true that publishers love high concept stories, but that’s because catchy ideas and rip-roaring characters are easier to pitch and sell.

Although many credit Tinseltown with inventing high concept, the idea originated long before movies ever existed. You can see high concept at work in Shakespeare and Greek tragedies. In operas and ballads. You’ll find it in Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities and Huckleberry Finn. High concept is here to stay for one very good reason.

It works.

Got High Concept? is on sale today via Amazon Kindle for $2.99 (normally sales for $4.99)

If you don't have a Kindle, you can still read it via the Kindle app on your computer.

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