Over the past few weeks, there has been a ton of agent contests. I, of course, I have been reading and following every one like a hawk and here’s one thing I noticed. It’s all all about YA Spec fiction.
Almost all of the entries picked are either fantasy and SF with a few thrillers thrown in for good measure. What does that mean for anyone writing outside that genre?
It means you better have a high concept contemporary.
Did you roll your eyes? I know I did. It sucks but it’s the truth. These days, it’s all about high concept. What’s an example of a high concept story?
In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live
only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the
situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself
accused of murder and on the run with a hostage – a connection that
becomes an important part of the way against the system
That’s the IMD blurb for IN TIME the movie. I think that’s a good example of a high concept idea. Now what about something a bit more contemporary?
A car accident puts Paige in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe
memory loss, her husband Leo works to win her heart again.
That’s the IMD blurb for THE VOW—great movie. In one line you have a well crafted story that sings with conflict.
That’s what you need to stick out. Find that magic hook in your story. If it’s contemporary, you need to bring out that one thing that will make it so juicy agents will eat it up. Take some time to read IMD blurbs. They’re great examples on how to write that hooky pitch. Agents and editors still crave contemporary, don’t give up!
Any thoughts on high concept and the flood of spec fic these days?
I'm one of those people who would happily read literary contemporary or historical over high-concept. But I also understand why in this crowded book marketplace, a little high concept is needed to stand out. Overall, I don't think it's a bad thing!