Tag Archives | high concept

Plot Busters – I So Don’t Do Spooky – Is it high concept?

Surprise! I’m giving you a dose of Plot Busters early. On Monday, myself and 24 other self published and indie published authors are launching The Indelibles blog. There will be chances to win a Kindle Fire and all our books in a blog hop. So be sure to check it out!

Now let’s move on to I So Don’t Do Spooky by Barrie Summy. I just love this series.

Logline: (from book) Thirteen-year-old Sherry helps her mother, a ghost, to investigate who is stalking Sherry’s stepmother, but Sherry is also very busy with school and friends, while her mother is also striving for a gold medal in the Ghostlympics.

Eh, this logline is just okay. I like my shorter version below.

Thirteen-year-old Sherry solves the mystery of who is stalking her stepmother to earn real time with her mother’s ghost.

High concept?

Let’s see. Ghosts, a mystery, high emotional stakes – I’d say yes. (I end up thinking that every book is high concept when the emotional stakes are high. So technically, this book might not be high concept. But that’s just semantics.)

1. Does the character offer the most conflict for the situation?

I love Sherry’s shopaholic, peppy personality. This is a mystery series and I love that we don’t have a noir detective, but a cute middle schooler who just wants to hang with her friends and boyfriend.

It’s not her personality or flaws that bring conflict to this mystery. It’s the fact that she wants to spend more time with her mom’s ghost. High emotional stakes.

2. Does she have the longest way to go emotionally?

In some ways, yes. Her dad has remarried one of Sherry’s teachers, who kids call the Ruler. And we can see from the first chapter, that Sherry is struggling accepting her as a mother figure.

3. Demographically pleasing?

I’d say yes. This is a perfect mix of contemporary with a bit of paranormal to make it fun. This story would appeal to middle schoolers and elementary age girls.

4. Is it primal?

Yes, definitely. Sherry misses her mom and longs to spend “real time” minutes with her. Without this emotional aspect, the story would not have carried the same level of impact.

If you’re wondering how to add emotional impact to your humorous middle grade or young adult story, look no further than this book. Summy does a masterful job. Lots to learn.

A week from Monday, we’ll cover Act I. So if you want to join in the fun and give Plot Busters a whirl, pick the book up at your library and break down Act I! We’ll compare notes. (Because really this is not my area of mavenness. I’m learning, just like you.)

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Do you write high-concept? Or not?

H is for high-concept

It took me a while to figure out what exactly this meant. And for a while I didn’t even care. I just wanted to write the stories I wanted to write. That’s what a lot of the advice says to do. Follow your heart.

But is your heart always right? It might be. It might be that your writing isn’t up to par yet. Or it could be the story premise.

Check out Roni Loren’s post on the subject of high-concept stories.

So why should I, or you, as writers try for high-concept?

Well, it depends on your goals and what you want to accomplish with your writing. There is definitely a market for quieter books that appeal to the library and school market. But my impression is that it’s harder to find an agent with a quiet book. Am I wrong on this?

You tell me – do you try for high concept? Do you even care?

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What exactly goes into Act I anyway? (And a winner!)

Thanks to everyone who tweeted and blogged and entered the contest – or just showed their support! You’re all awesome!

You’ve seen me break down Act I of a movie and a high concept book. But what exactly will I do for the winner of the Act I crit?

What I want to know:

  • Title
  • Logline
  • Genre (YA or MG or adult) (I have seen a difference in structure between the two!)
  • Estimated number of words
  • What author or book would you compare your writing to?
  • Were you trying for high concept or no?
  • What draft will I read: first draft, revised draft, or polished draft?
  • Give me a brief description of the ending climax.

So many questions might seem silly, but the answers will affect how I critique your first act.


I will look to see if your protagonist:

  • offers the most conflict in that situation,
  • has the longest way to go emotionally, and
  • will appeal to a large demographic.

I will look to see if your main character’s motivations can be narrowed down to what Blake Snyder calls a primal urge – love, survival…etc.

Act I:

Opening Image

Tone, mood, style of your opening line and pages. Was I hooked? Did I care about your protagonist? Was the first chapter relevant to the story?

Theme Stated:

Somewhere in the first half of Act I, I will look for a posed question or offhand remark reflecting what your story is really about. If I can’t see one, I’ll let you know!


Hero, stakes, story goal

Six things that need fixing – problems/flaws. These will be mirrored in the third act, showing the change.


This is the game-changing event when something happens to set the story in motion!


Your main character might know what to do but he/she needs to make sure it’s the right choice. In MG this could be a few paragraphs or half a chapter. A question is asked of the hero and in the end they need to say, yes!

Break into two:

This is the defining moment when your main character leaves the old world behind and gets started on his story goal.

There you have it.

And the winner of the copy of SAVE THE CAT and an Act I critique is…..


(I don’t know about you but I’m going to be going over my own Act I to check for these things too!)

Thanks everyone!

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