My stats for, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t – My Review are soaring. Clearly, I’m not the only one who loves Steven Pressfield’s book about writing good stories.
So I’m starting a series of posts looking more closely at his book. Today I’m focusing on the importance of “The Concept.”
The bigger the better. “A concept takes a conventional claim and puts a spin on it.” (p. 18, Steven Pressfield, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t)
- “…establishes a frame of reference … greater than the product itself.” (ibid.)
- forces the reader to look at the idea with fresh eyes
- has the reader see the concept in a new way
To use advertising analogies, think: Diamonds are forever, Avis is number two – we try harder…
In Hollywood they call it the “high concept.”
“A high-concept movie is a film 1)whose narrative idea can be communicated in ten seconds or less …2) as soon as you hear the idea, you can imagine all the cool scenes that are certain to be in the movie….”(p. 20, ibid)
The example he gives is for the movie Die Hard:
“A gang of thieves takes over a high-rise office building at night, planning to steal the corporate fortune in the basement. What they don’t know is that one rogue cop happens to be in the building.” (ibid.) Alluring isn’t it. A one-sound-bite concept that pulls you in.
Pressfield points out that all the great stories have concepts. He claims it’s the first step when you start a project.
From a simply stated, powerful concept an epic can emerge. He uses The Illiad as his example. How many centuries have we been reading that?
Writing a high concept for your book may sound easy, but as you and I know, it’s not. I have to write notes and scenes and generally muck around in my story’s world a bit, before it emerges. But when it does, it is a wonderful moment.
Wishing you lots of high concepts.
You can get Steven Pressfield’s book, Nobody Wants to Ready Your Sh*t in ebook, mobi and print copies here.