Monday, July 18, 2011

Crafting a Story : High Concept

To avoid further confusion, here is my definition of a high concept:
An interesting concept that can be easily understood and delivered in a few words.

An example of one is Back to the Future.  A kid goes back in time, meets his parents when they were young, and his mother falls in love with him (courtesy of The Story Book by David Baboulene).

21 words.  It does not encompass the entire story, but it delivers the main premise, in high concept form.  Therefore, I’m going to start with my premise and whittle it into a high concept.

This story is about a man and a woman being chased by the ghost of someone who he killed and she betrayed.  Here I go.
A man kills a robber in defence and gets involved with a woman, but after the woman has a séance, the robber’s ghost comes back to haunt them. 
Almost, but I want to add that the woman is the robber’s girlfriend. 
A man gets involved with the girlfriend of a robber he killed in defence, not knowing that she had been involved with the robber, and the woman calls a séance, which causes the robber’s ghost to return from the netherworld and haunt them. 
Okay, that’ll work.  Now, this is 43 words, but more importantly, it handles a lot of points.  In order to get to a high concept, I need to take out the unnecessary information, sticking only with the core of the story.

Here is the result. 
A man unknowingly gets involved with the girlfriend of a robber he killed, causing the robber’s ghost to return and haunt them. 
22 words and on the important points.  I’m satisfied with this (though, it might be a bit ambiguous).

EDIT:  After Mood pointed it out to me, here is the altered version, which sets the mood better.
A man unknowingly gets involved with the girlfriend of a robber he killed, causing the robber’s vengeful ghost to return. 
(20 words now)

That’s it.  Next week, I’ll look at what I got from this randomly generated story, and maybe even give it a title.


  1. Actually I think that's pretty good. The situation is clear, as is the unexpected twist.

    I'd say 'haunt them' sounds a little lacking in threat considering what I've read about the story previously. Maybe something like: causing the robber's vengeful ghost to return.


  2. Ah, thanks. I wanted to say something else than haunt, but I couldn't think of anything.

    I appreciate the input.