Most writers can’t tell at the premise stage whether they’ve got a good story because they don’t have the training to see the deep structural problems in the idea before writing it as a script. The extraordinary fact is 99% of writers fail at the premise. This is the great unknown gatekeeper that keeps most writers from being successful. If you screw up the premise, nothing you do later in the writing process will make any difference. The game’s already over.
– John Truby
Hollywood-types like to talk about, push, and buy high concept movies and television. You might never have heard the term “high concept” before. But it’s one that every Magician needs to know because it helps you to be more effective.
So, what does “high concept” mean?
In its simplest form, it means a movie or television show that is powerful and salable and immediately craved because, among other things, it’s highly entertaining, new, and has an emotional focus. A high concept can usually be put into one forceful, exciting, and seductive sentence. When you hear or read that sentence you immediately want to know more.
Now imagine such a sentence used by you that makes you or your desired outcomes forceful, exciting, or seductive.
Let me digress for just a moment. Your high concept is not the same as a tagline you might use. Going back to our television and movie discussion, let’s look at Pixar’s movie, Toy Story (which shouldn’t be a surprise to you that Steve Jobs owned Pixar at the time it was made).
Toy Story’s high concept explores the question: What if your toys are really alive?
It’s taglines ranged from “Proud to be a vegetable!” to “Watch out for little green men.” Not very high concept are they?
Can you now see why you don’t want to confuse the two?
Okay, back to our discussion of you, your Magic, and high concept.
I want you to start thinking of yourself and the Magic you have to offer with a new perspective. Start asking: What do I have to say, in one sentence, that will have people spreading the word about me?
Or, to put it another way: What do I have to say, in one sentence, that will make people want to learn more about me and my Magic?
Most people—including your competitors—don’t have an inkling of what they can or should do to create a high concept for themselves and what they have to offer to the world. The good news is that, now that you know about the (high) concept, it’s actually going to be simple for you to create (I said “simple.” I did not say “easy.”).
I used the term “simple” because that’s what you are shooting for. You want your sentence to convey your message in a simple fashion. For what I do, my high concept is three simple words: Making. Magic. Real.
“Making. Magic. Real.” (especially with the periods in place) delivers a promise. It delivers three mighty actions (creating, manifesting, and experiencing). The heart of my promise is that I will help others obtain the happiness and success they want. In today’s world, a person’s life would change dramatically if they were both happy and successful. Finding that kind of Magic, will change everything for most people.
I use numerous taglines. The most compelling ones are: Stop Wishing. Start Having. and Do You Want More? Those taglines are of different construction than my high concept and they deliver a different feeling to my audience. They also have a different purpose.
Now, it’s your turn.
What is your high concept?
What is the promise you are inherently making to others?
What do you have to offer them that is practical and tangible?
My work is all about Great Magic.
What is your work all about?
Start with filling in the blank: I offer Great _______________.
Now ask yourself: What can I say about my Great ____________ that will move someone reading it or hearing it?
Finally, put your Great __________ into a “what if” scenario that is dramatic.
In my case, I have “What if Magic is real?”
What’s your dramatic offering?
Once you frame the high concept for yourself and your Magic, you’re going to find that it actually shakes up and stimulates you. You’re going to find it motivating. You’re going to find it exhilarating. And you’re going to find that your Magic is thrilling all over again.
You see, in the end, finding the high concept that fuels your Magic really isn’t about selling anything to anyone else. It’s all about you discovering or rediscovering your own enjoyment of Life.
Remember, you can also continue this conversation by subscribing to my blog at http://thinkingmagically.com or you joining me on any of the major social media sites to take this discussion to an even deeper level.