Gracious good day my fellow Turbo Monkeys,
but what is a great concept?
“What happens when a bored married couple's "Date Night" goes wrong?” Wacky fun!
“Snakes on a Plane" More wacky fun? No...(although it might have been better as a comedy)
So, high concept is not a guarantee of commercial success, but it does aid in the sell-ability of your story, and really this is why publishers and agents are in business.Buffy the Vampire Slayer = “What if a cheerleader hunted vampires?”
Jaws = “What if a shark stalked humans?”
Toy Story = “What if your kid’s toys had secret lives?”
Perfect examples of high concept stories with universal appeal, short concise pitches and a promise of potential.
A high concept is a great formula to streamline your premise, it helps, but it’s not always the indicator of success. For example...Star Trek
When Harry Met Sally
- Universal appeal - Is your theme understood by many?
- A primal theme of survival?
- A romantic theme of finding love?
- A nobel theme of saving a loved one?
- Poses a question - “What if...” “Who is...” “Why did...”
- "What if your reality was just a computer game?" = Matrix
- "Who is Forrest Gump?" = Forrest Gump
- "Why did Schindler save the Jewish workers?" = Schindler's List
- Unique - Original or a spin on something familiar.
- Human girl falls in love with glowing vampire = Twilight
- Ex lovers chase tornados = Twister
- Man is castaway on a boat with a tiger = Life of Pi
- Promises Potential - Potential of laughter, drama, fear, romance or $$$
The promise of potential is a bit subjective but it should be as obvious as one eastbound train and one westbound train on the same track.
A great concept is generally pitch driven. Three sentences or less that paint a picture in the reader’s head, states your theme, poses a question, promises potential and most of all causes “Cha Ching” to ring in their ears.I hope this helps you form a great concept and gets your writing to a new level.