Tween The Weekend – High Concept

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I posted this topic a number of months ago, but I think High Concept is something we writers want to strive for. We really want to find that magic that creates books that everyone wants to read.

I have a fascination with all things High Concept.  I enjoy reading it and I absolutely love the elusive hunt for it as a writer. The best way I think to find your own unique high concept is to really review who you are as a writer.  What moves you?

What are the themes in your writing? We all choose what we enjoy writing about and I don’t mean genre.  Things like family issues, family relationships, friendships, external issues, etc.

Next what do you focus on in your genre. MG/YA, genre fiction have huge ranges of romance, fantasy, science fiction (hard or soft).  Where do you sit inside your genre?

Now try something different.  Focus on YOU as a person.  Sit down with a lined pad or open up Excel or Word and create a numbered list. Write down every movie, book, TV show and song that has ever moved you emotionally either because it’s super fun or caused emotional upheaval. After each title place a dash and add the WHY.  Why did it move you?  What did you LOVE about this experience?

Take another step deeper.  List all your personal experiences that had an impact on you.  White water rafting, exchange programs, vacations… Now be open. This is your list and yours alone. You have every right to absolutely LOVE the Backyardigans for their use of opera in a kids show.  Or claim undying love for the nerdy guy on Glee. This is the list of things that get your blood moving.  This is what you should write about.

Now take a spoon and stir it up.  Mix all of that culture, lit, media and pop together and let it stew for you. This list, this hodgepodge that makes up your experiences is vitally important to your writing because NO ONE ELSE can write about them like you can.  THIS is where your high concept idea is going to come from.

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High Concept is not a magic potion that someone created.  It’s YOUR magic.  It’s the boiled down essence of you as a person and your take on the world, made concrete on paper, for your readers to see.

So what’s on your list??

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9 comments on “Tween The Weekend – High Concept
  1. I like posts that have me try a simple exercise to get my brain engaged in a new way. Thanks, Ansha!

  2. Oops, your link goes to the Emblazon home page. But I found the TTW page. 😉

  3. Lisa Orchard says:

    Great post Ansha! It’s so great to work with such like-minded authors! 🙂

  4. It’s crazy what moves us to write what we write. Awesome post, Ansha! Life is truly the messy bits! Cheers!

  5. Alan Tucker says:

    Love this brainstorming idea! I like exploring the struggle between acceptance and independence. We all want to be welcomed by our peer groups, yet we also want to retain a certain uniqueness. Many times those goals butt heads. 🙂

  6. Lois Brown says:

    I remember when an agent mentioned something about my book being “high concept.” I was such a newbie in the fiction world, I didn’t know what that meant. But when I learned what “high concept” meant, I fell in love. Great post.

  7. I never really thought too much about this, Ansha, but this has opened my eyes as to why I write what I do. Thank you for the exercise ideas. Quite helpful.

  8. Lia London says:

    I love your ideas here, especially the intentional use of themes. Too many stories out there don’t really have meat. When folks ask me, “What’s your book about?” there should be two answers: (1) the overall plot line/conflict; and (2) what it’s REALLY about–the theme.

  9. Lynn Kelley says:

    This is a great suggestion, Ansha. Writing a high concept book has a darn good chance of selling well. Like you say, it has to be a high concept with deep meaning to us in order to write it. Thanks for posting this. Sounds like a perfect exercise to do before starting a new book!

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