1.11 – High Concept Ideas

In this episode I . . .

Talk about high concept ideas. Having a high concept idea can greatly increase your chance of success. A high concept puts a fresh twist on a universal theme. It appeals to the masses. The moment you hear about it, you think, “I want to see that/read that/buy that.”

Why should you try and write a high concept idea?

-It can help you find out what the story is all about.
-It can help you explain your idea quickly.
-It can open a lot of doors.
-It will make marketing easier once you’re published.

How do you come up with a high concept idea?

1. A high concept is universal, which means it resonates with everyone.
2. A high concept is unique. It hasn’t been done before, or it puts a fresh twist on an old idea.
3. A high concept must involve a sympathetic character with a BIG problem to solve.
4. A high concept can be summed up in a few words that gives a clear picture of what the story is. Here are some examples of high concept movies and books:

Hunger Games: 24 teens fight to death on national television.
Toy Story: What if your toys were alive?
The Shack: A man meets God in a shack in the woods.
Smallville: Superman in high school.
The Lightning Thief: What if a boy found out he was a demigod?
National Treasure: What if clues to a treasure were hidden by our forefathers?
Jurassic Park: Dinosaur theme park.
The Vow: Would you stay married if your spouse forgot your life together?
The Fault in Our Stars: Two terminal teens fall in love.
Cinder: Cinderella as a cyborg.

5. A high concept has a short title that says what the story is. Ex: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


Test Your Idea
1. Is your idea universal? Have you found something that all people can relate to?
2. Does your idea have a unique twist? Have you taken something familiar and added something strange?
3. Is your protagonist likeable or relatable? Can we identify with him? Learn from him? Follow him? Root for him?
4. Are the stakes big enough? Are they primal?
5. Can you summarize your concept in a few short words?
6. Does your title capture the spirit of your story?

People are always saying there are no new ideas out there, yet brilliant books are published year after year. So don’t give up. You never know. You might come up with the next big thing.