Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

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JuiceinLA
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Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by JuiceinLA » August 30th, 2010, 5:36 pm

As we try to shill our "staggering works of literary genius" to all sorts of publishing professionals, we end up creating a bazillion query letters, a 5 page synopsis, a 1 page synopsis, and the dreaded "One Sentence" synopsis of which we are supposed to be able to blurt out at a moment's notice when we find ourselves in an elevator with the agent or editor who can put us on the NYT Best Seller List.

I fully admit that I cannot - or could not before today- reduce the description of my book to a single sentence. But if I merely try to describe it as a "high Concept" piece of work- it becomes not so surprisingly easy!

So in honor of today's blog, I am posing a challenge- can you pitch your work as "High Concept"? One sentence or less? Come on, its just for fun! Here is mine:

"Vodka Swilling Lawyer Flees Suburban Midwest for LA, Hilarity ensues."

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polymath
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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by polymath » August 30th, 2010, 6:24 pm

Not situation alone, I think of a high-concept premise as the main dramatic complication of a narrative, but one that's on the surface, superficial like, readily accessible to general audiences wanting their entertainments easily and immediately accessible.

The two parallel opposite dramatic complications most common if not universal to fiction are a stranger comes to town (strange setting, idea, character or thing, and/or event) or a native leaves sanctuary to encounter strangeness, which, by the way, the latter is the main dramatic complication of the Joyce novel Ulysses, 1920-ish, Mr. Bransford paraphrases on this day's blog.

Leopold Bloom leaves home to make his daily routine rounds of Dublin on a typical day. Not much in the way of strangeness, per se, or dramatic magnitude; therefore, not much in the way of immediate emotional payoff. The novel's intellectual payoff takes effort to fully realize, though it is sublimely rewarding.

Also, a high-concept premise is, besides a main complication, an insuperable dilemma, a larger-than-life, life-defining circumstance, and a few more terms for similar plot inciting aspects related to causation, tension, and antagonism and discovery and reversal and anagnorisis and peripetia.
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Margo
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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by Margo » August 30th, 2010, 6:49 pm

We had a good discussion on high-concept awhile back:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1647&hilit=high+concept&start=20

I particularly liked several of polymath's posts, but there's one on page 3 that might be good for someone trying to actually craft a high-concept premise or statement. I'm using it for a template.

I can't add a high-concept line for my WIP because I don't have my plot ironed out yet.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

JuiceinLA
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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by JuiceinLA » August 30th, 2010, 8:05 pm

Sorry for being obtuse, I wasn't trying to question or debate meaning. I was perfectly satisfied with Nathan's description of the term (see below) and though it would be fun to poke fun at ourselves. I don't take myself to seriously... please forgive!

Here is what Nathan said that got me going:
High concept is very often misunderstood because what it sounds like it means and what it actually means are basically completely opposite. It doesn't mean sophisticated (opposite), it doesn't mean cerebral (opposite), it doesn't mean difficult to describe (opposite).

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polymath
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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by polymath » August 30th, 2010, 8:15 pm

Cool to know something I've shared provided useful insight, Margo.

I used to be frustrated by the many disparate ways writers talk and write about similar writing principles.

Whether high-concept premise, dramatic complication, insuperable dilemma, First Cause, inciting moment, whatever, is present is one of the main components I test for while developing an inspiration. If it's not and I can't immediately compose one, on the back burner that idea goes until I figure one out. Twenty or a hundred trial and errors later I might come up with one of sufficient magnitude to be high-concept enough to satisfy me.

I don't share my working premises publicly. Too many of them have been co-opted and runaway with and spoiled.
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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by Margo » August 31st, 2010, 12:37 pm

polymath wrote:Cool to know something I've shared provided useful insight, Margo.
Numerous times, polymath.
polymath wrote:I don't share my working premises publicly. Too many of them have been co-opted and runaway with and spoiled.
It's funny that I'm usually with the people who say there's nothing to fear in sharing your ideas because it's the execution that counts. Yet here I am trying my hand at an extremely competitive subgenre, and I've actually come up with a slight twist that hasn't been done yet, so I dodge questions from anyone I don't know irl because I don't want a faster writer to pick up the idea and run with it. The subgenre seems to be very sensitive these days to anything that someone else has already done a time or two. I feel paranoid, yet I know that being paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. :) Figuratively speaking, that is.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by Margo » August 31st, 2010, 12:43 pm

JuiceinLA wrote: I don't take myself to seriously... please forgive!
I thought you were pretty clear. I just posted the link to the previous thread because I thought it would be useful for crafting the lines for this thread, in almost a Mad Libs kind of way. :) It was definitely helpful to me in crafting my high-concept template.

template template template template template template template template template template template template i love templates templates templates ilovetemplates

ahem...I'm kind of sleep deprived.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

JuiceinLA
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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by JuiceinLA » August 31st, 2010, 4:30 pm

Margo wrote: ahem...I'm kind of sleep deprived.

HAHAhaa, ahh, good times. yea me too Margo. That's why I clarified. Thanks for your insight and the link! you really are such a positive, helpful person!

cheers!

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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by dios4vida » August 31st, 2010, 4:41 pm

Margo wrote:I feel paranoid, yet I know that being paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. :) Figuratively speaking, that is.
Like Harry Dresden (authored by Jim Butcher) said: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

:)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by Margo » August 31st, 2010, 4:42 pm

JuiceinLA wrote:you really are such a positive, helpful person!
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!
Only because the moon isn't full.

Okay, well, yes, I do tend to be compulsively helpful. To a fault. One of my psychology grad prof's used to have a term for it...not fit for polite company. The positive part I shall not claim. Pragmatic. Proactive. Pushy.

-Margo, aka werewriter (not the fanfiction author)
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by Margo » August 31st, 2010, 4:51 pm

dios4vida wrote:Like Harry Dresden (authored by Jim Butcher) said: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

:)
Ah, yes, H.D. He's about 4 books down in my reading pile, 5 now that I've discovered Sixty-One Nails. Which. Is. Out. Today! Picking mine up this afternoon. Yay!!!
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Nathan's "High Concept" blog got me thinking...

Post by dios4vida » August 31st, 2010, 5:52 pm

Margo wrote:Ah, yes, H.D. He's about 4 books down in my reading pile, 5 now that I've discovered Sixty-One Nails. Which. Is. Out. Today! Picking mine up this afternoon. Yay!!!
Let me know how Sixty-One Nails is!! I'm dying to read it, but I won't have time for a while.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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