Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hi, Concept? Is that you?

Okay, so my title is facetious. That's sort of the emotion the term 'High Concept' evokes with me.

Call me a cynic. As authors we hear about 'high concept' all the time. If we're lucky enough to come up with a high concept, we may, in fact, be lucky enough.

Unfortunately, at least lately, I've been disillusioned with the the high concept books and movies I've seen. I think the term has really come to refer specifically to a project's potential reach the impulse buyer.

A high concept is the potato chip of the literary world. It's devolved into something that looks like it's going to taste really, really good, and you get one crunchy bite out of it, then it crumbles. The flavor is there, but it comes from fat and salt and carbohydrates, not from anything nutritional.

The high concept has become a 'bait and switch' - the book with the glossy cover and the celebrity author, or the gimmick that comes with the purchase to entice you into believing you're getting something really new and different, and all you really get is a few salty crumbs and calories you don't need.

I'm sure there are movers and shakers in the publishing world who will say, 'here's a girl who doesn't know what a high concept is,' and maybe as a writer I don't. But as a reader I do. I've bought enough of them, and I've always been disappointed.


Savanna Kougar said...

Interesting! I'm really out of the loop in this one.
I've heard the term, of course. But never paid it much attention. That's what I get for being sort of a hermit.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Sometimes I think it's better to be a bit out of the loop. It can be too overwhelming to be on top of every trend, and not always conducive to creativity anyway.

Savanna Kougar said...

I think you're so right. There's no way I could be on top of all the trends, and still have time to write, let alone the motivation.
But, that's just me.

I'm celebrating today because When a Good Angel Falls is #1 at BookStrand, and I just got a contract for Black Cat Beauty from Liquid Silver.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Congratulations! I saw the Book Strand list - that rocks!

Savanna Kougar said...

Thank you, it's definitely cool for little ole' me.