High concept

Just had an interesting conversation with a multi-published friend of mine yesterday. You see, I have a bit of a dilemma. I have booked a pitch at our RWNZ conference next week with a very well respected editor whose publishing house does not accept unagented queries. This is a big deal. Since I’m unagented, this is a chance to maybe get my work in front of this editor – provided I can pull off a decent pitch.

So now the second bout of the big bad nasty flu is (fingers crossed!) on its way out, I’m trying to figure out which ms to pitch. And the trouble is, I have too much choice! And worse, most of them have done well in competitions, so which one to choose? I was in the throes of writing pitches for all of them and then picking one but that’s just too darned labor intensive and I’m sooooo running out of time. So I asked my friend Nalini for advice. It’s easy to understand why she’s so successful coz her advice was spot on – thanks again, Nalini!

Shall I let you all in on the secret? But of course :-).
Her advice was to write a high concept – i.e. a one or two sentence pitch encapsulating each ms – and choose the one which stands out and has the most impact. Pitches are short. You have very little time to impress so you’ve got to impress big-time. Great advice – thanks, heaps, Nalini!

And surprisingly, this was a really fun exercise, too. I say surprisingly, because I hate writing synopses. I really have to learn to write them before I write the darn book. So much easier to do then. Less chance of getting tied up in plot details and secondary characters…which I always do when I write a synopsis after I’ve finished the ms. Soooo not my favorite part of the writing process! And as for summing up your entire ms in one or two sentences? Oh, come on! But it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. And some are still a bit clunky, but hey, the exercise was to choose one which really stands out so I could concentrate on that one, not perfect a whole heap in one sitting…which would then cause yet another dilemma. Duh!

BTW, they’re all completed mss. Gee, wouldn’t it be great if I could come up with a concise, killer high concept pitch BEFORE I wrote the damn book? Now there’s a thought! One day, Maree, one day…

Anyway I’m gonna share all my somewhat less-than-perfect efforts with you because once I’d finished, I got a bit of a shock. And the ms I ended up choosing to pitch was not the one I’d have expected at all! Here they are, in no particular order:

-Freaks of Greenfield High
As if being the only Goth freak at high school isn’t dire enough, what if the hot new boy who’s totally into you is a cyborg struggling to cope with human emotions?  

-Scent Of A Man
What if you were born into a fanatically religious world that rigidly enforces chastity but overnight you became a God-forsaken monster…completely irresistible to women?

-When Lightning Strikes
What if you died in a lightning strike then woke up in hospital and found you were sharing your body with the alien who rode the lightning bolt which killed you?-Chalcedony’s Wulf
What if one moment of weakness leaves you irrevocably bonded to an arrogant alien warrior you accidently released from a hunk of crystal?

-Seer’s Hope
What if you were blind, and you were transported to a world where people insist you’re a Seer with supernatural powers and you’re their only hope of survival?

Hmmmm. A real about-face after doing this one. Can you guess which one really ‘popped’?

And if you’re reading this and you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it.

Happy High Concept Writing,



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