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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Thirty-Nine

What "High Concept" Means in Any Genre

Gauging How (and Where) Your Work Fits In

Jeff Lyons

You’re ready to begin the process of pitching your book to prospective literary agents or publishers. You begin combing through market listings, thinking it will be a simple matter of finding those who accept work in your genre—but time and again, you discover submission guidelines expressing a preference for “high-concept” stories. Your brow furrows. High concept? What the heck does that mean? Your confusion turns to frustration, and maybe even panic, because no one on your wish list defines this popular term d’art. They simply declare that it is what they want a story to be, it is what they prefer, indeed, it is the Holy Grail for ...

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