What Is a High Concept

Glossary > High Concept 

💬 Definition of High Concept: 

A high-concept story is a clear, easy-to-communicate premise that makes the book effortless to pitch. High-concept books have stories that rely on a concept or main idea rather than a style. The term was originally coined in the film industry for movies with an attention-grabbing yet easy pitch. 

Related questions about a high concept:

What is the difference between high-concept and low-concept books?

As mentioned previously, a high-concept story has an easy-to-communicate idea, which makes for a great elevator pitch. Therefore, the idea can be expressed in two or three sentences. However, not every story that can be pitched in a few words is a high concept. 

High concept is about wide audience potential. This means that a high-concept story will instantly appeal to a publisher and, most probably, to a movie producer that will later try to secure film rights. High-concept books are characterized by their unique, imaginative premises.

On the other hand, a low-concept story is based on character development with less action. Its premise is centered around characters or their styles. 

A common misconception is that high-concept stories are not as complex in their premise as low-concept stories. But there are examples of such titles that show how well-thought a premise can be.

What are some examples of high-concept fiction?

To understand even better what a high-concept story is, think of books such as:

  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

A book like The Handmaid's Tale, for example, helps us understand that even if the plot can be pitched in just a few sentences, there is so much more to explore and discover while reading besides the main idea of dystopian patriarchy. 

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