High Concept Stories

Credit: pinterest.com

Credit: pinterest.com

High Concept Stories? Huh?

Every time you turn around, the publishing world has changed and added new submission guidelines, genres or sub-genres for the various novels that are being turned out.  Literary agents now often ask for high concept stories. What the heck does that mean?


There is none!

Ask a panel of literary experts and they’ll all give you different answers. So what’s a writer to do when even the experts are confused. High concept appears to be a story that can be boiled down to a few spectacular requirements. No pressure, of course.

  1. You must be able to capture the essence of your story in the title and the tagline – whew!

    Credit: dreamstime.com

    Credit: dreamstime.com

  1. It must be unique and original – Nothing new there! All that means is that you need to put your own slant on any story … something we should be doing anyway.
  1. It must appeal to the masses – we’re talking N.Y. best-sellers here. Of course you don’t know if you’re book is going to be a best-seller but if you come up with a plot that is so outrageous that only a very few people would be interested in reading it – well then, you can strike it off the high-concept label.
  1. It means that the premise of your book has to have a ‘wow’ hook – something that is immediately recognizable and that will appeal to the largest possible audience 

    Credit: pinballinfo.com

    Credit: pinballinfo.com

  1. Whatever genre you’re pitching has to be obvious and grab the reader immediately – it all boils down to hook, line and sinker
  1. Your elevator pitch should be 1-3 sentences tops and the pitch should make the person clunk themselves on the head and wish they had come up with it.

If you have all these elements, you have a high-concept novel.


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Crafting Your Novel – Tuesday afternoons Aug.2 – Sept. 13 (no class Aug. 9)

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