Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"High?" Concept

If you get what "high concept" is, I'm seriously jealous.

I want to know. I've tried to know.

Last spring, I listened eagerly to a really great workshop that HarperCollins editor Jordan Brown gave on "High Concept." And I still came out with no idea.

I get that there's something about being able to sum up the work in one sentence.

But the "Books" section of the San Francisco Chronicle does this with 40 books every week.

And I went through my bookshelf, and could apply "High Concept" to everything in there.

Magic Treehouse # 36: Blizzard of the Blue Moon: Jack and Annie search New York for a unicorn tapestry that will bring hope to the Great Depression.

Pete Hautman's Godless: Four middle-American teens make up their own religion that becomes exactly what they're trying to avoid.

Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible: A missionary family is more changed by Africa than Africa is changed by it.

It seems to me that anything can be High Concept.

Wikipedia is no help.

Okay, I get the "concept" part. But what the heck is that "high?"


Shannon O'Donnell said...

When you get the answer, come and share it with me! No idea. LOL. :-)

Robin Mellom said...

I think it's REALLY hard to define this. The way I see it in my mind, is the HIGH part refers to audience. So they're looking for a book with a concept that will appeal to the HIGHEST number of people. Not just "wow, this will appeal to all depressed 10-year old boys with freckles!" It needs to appeal to a LOT of people. Which is hard to do, really.

But something like The Davinci Code or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo seems to have appeal to both men AND women, young and old. Which makes publishers very happy. It's so hard to come up with concepts like that...and that's why they want them so bad!!

I dunno. I just made all that up.

Jennie Englund said...

GENIUS, Robin!!!!

(Don't you think, Shannon?)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Grat question, Jennie!

Thanks for the answer, Robin!