|A wie armageddon. by danirolli|
I've heard a lot of mini, fractured definitions, but every writer, and reader, knows what high concept is when they see it.
It a nutshell, it makes the story sing.
Still, that's not a Webster definition.
According to Jeff Lyons, author of Anatomy of a Premise Line, high concept has:
- entertainment value
- visual appeal
- emotional depth
- asks "what if"
Anatomy of a Premise Line:
High level of entertainment value High degree of originality High level of uniqueness (different than original) Highly visual Possesses a clear emotional focus (root emotion) Targets a broad, general audience, or a large niche market Sparks a “what if” question - See more at: http://www.scriptmag.com/features/story-talk-high-concept-yes-it-actually-means-something#sthash.LgUbQPEg.dpufYou don’t have to slap your reader in the face with your concept - that's best avoided - but the writer needs to know what it is, to stay on track. My favorite support for this is with the tagline - the short-short sentence or catchphrase that resonates with the story's core values.
Condensing a novel or film to a tagline that reflects the richness of concept can be painstakingly difficult, but incredibly rewarding. Here are a few examples, some of which I am sure you will recognize.
When Parallel Worlds Collide . . .
Journey by Night by Kim Falconer (the third book in my QE Series)
The last man on earth is not alone . . .
I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing . . .
The Quiz Show based on Richard N. Goodwin's memoir
In space, no one can hear you scream . . .
Alien by Alan Dean Foster
Winter is coming . . .
Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
Your Mind is the scene of the crime . . .
Inception written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .
Star Wars (1977)
An adventure 65 million years in the making . . .
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Everybody Loves Ernest... But Nobody's Quite Sure Who He Really Is.
The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde (2002 film)
She has the power . . .
One last chance for peace . . .
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
You can see that the tagline doesn't include the full heart, essence, premise, design or images of the story, but if it has the same vibration, it will inspire readers to pick up the book (and writers to keep writing them). Once in the pages, or theater, the concept works invisibly behind the text and images to sweep the audience away.
What are some of your favorite film or novel concepts? Do the taglines reflect them?
Sup authors, I'd love to know what you're working on now. Do you start with a tagline in mind? A core concept to keep you on track?
Feel free to share in the comments.
Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, YA and epic science fantasy novels.
You can find out more about Kim at the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.
She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook.
Her latest release is "Blood and Water" in Supernatural Underground: Vampires Gone Wild.