What is a High-concept Story?

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What is a High-concept Story?

Are you a writer? Have you heard of a high-concept story or function before? Maybe you have; maybe not. In this article, we will discuss what a high-concept story is. Creative writing has its strands and enthusiasm – its beautification and compelling force – what makes it a story worth reading? Read on to find out more.


Best stories


What is a High-concept Story?

A high-concept story is one with a clear and easily-communicable premise. Have you seen some movies that are termed ‘blockbusters’ or cinematic? Maybe you are a follower of a fiction book or comic with a very large fan base. These movies, comics, and books are plot-driven rather than character driven. You would pay to see the movie, join the fan base for the book, or offer free reviews just because it is fun. One such story that dragged me across kilometers just to see it in a cinema is Black Panther. When this movie was first released in 2018, I couldn’t wait to see it. Now I wait patiently for the next part coming out next month while I grieve the death of Chadwick Boseman, the person that played the character – T’Challa, the protagonist in Black Panther 1.

High-concept stories need no definition as they define themselves from the onset. What a high-concept story does have is its pattern and a few constructions, which we will analyse. It is quite the opposite for low-concept stories, which are character driven with fewer narrative hooks. What gives a high-concept story the quality that keeps you glued and asking for more?



What makes a high-concept story?

  • Easy comprehension – Every story tagged as ‘high concept’ must be easily understood. This makes it sellable to the market. It is not only about conciseness but also the concept of the story. Example – Matrix is a high-concept story. In this story, it is projected that the world is ruled by machines – an idea that is clear and easy to understand. 
  • The uniqueness of an idea – Th idea is unique, and the thought pattern is spectacular. Readers or viewers can see the lines and relate to them. You may be wondering why it is termed a high-concept. Also, you may think there are so many stories out there that can pass as one. Unfortunately, they aren’t – this shows that they’re not up to the standard of high-concept stories. It must be unique – uniqueness varies by genre – science fiction, general intergalactic, or interplanetary stories. What does matter is that the ideas are super-duper. 
  • Plot-Driven – This is a very important aspect of a high-concept story, if not the most important. A high-concept story must be plot-driven and not the other way around, which is a story driven by character. The plot is everything in the story and can be summarised in a few sentences of no more than three. The plot is designated to be the actual events of the story. A good example of this type of plot is the Maze Runner – a story adapted into a movie. Jurassic Park is another mind-blowing story that can be said to have a high-concept plot – a perfect fit for it and a unique idea.
  • Captivating – This is in sync with the plot. You have to present a very captivating story at first glance – a story that would click on your reader’s memory when they see the synopsis, which on the other hand, is simple and concise. When your story idea and plot are captivating, their sellability and widespreadness become seamless. The concept is then tagged as high and not low. The reverse scenario is when you don’t present a good quality story, it is low-concept, and its sellability and widespread popularity are stunted.
  • Familiarly unfamiliar – Every story, both the low-concept and high-concept, has been written before. I tell people that nothing in the world is invented afresh. Everything has been; what is left is innovation and revolution. This should also be the basis for a writer – innovation and revolution. Here, innovation can be seen as creativity, and revolution is a shift from the old occurrence. 

In essence, what you’re presenting is already in existence. Therefore, it is a familiar setting, characters, plot, conflict, and resolution. What is left is for you to bring in your innovative idea to redeploy this scenario and repackage it as an unfamiliar event. While doing so, you make it as outstanding as it would be to adequate from the original story people know. For instance, there are many adaptations of Dracula – the vampire king. Also, the story of King Arthur and Merlin of England has many variables, each unique in its style. 



Read also:

10 Tips for Writing Children’s Picture Books

20 Qualities Your Story Should Have



Tips for writing high-concept stories

  1. Create a concept premise that you can easily explain. If you cannot explain it in three (3) sentences, the concept is complex. Consider revising the concept or changing it.
  2. Build on the known archetype. Build on something familiar but ensure it has a touch of uniqueness to it.
  3. Construct the whole story to give your concept depth with skillful storytelling.


Creating a high-concept story is not as easy as drinking a cup of coffee. Generally, writing isn’t sucheasy; high-concept stories are more so. It takes a toll on writers to sit down and think. Sometimes it bores me out and makes me weak. It’s disappointing to have many ideas running through your head with no one coming to play. This means you may have a great idea, but if the premise and storytelling do not align, the concept will not come out as top-notch .

Remember, high-concept stories are classified as top-notch in the writing and movie industry. Developing them isn’t a small feat; you have to keep trying. 



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