From my chair, sometimes it seems like folks encounter the “What is your concept?” question, and then they scramble for an answer. They conjure something conceptual, or what seems conceptual in that moment.
As if they weren’t ready for that question. Hadn’t considered it. This is part of the value of the analysis process, it shows you what you don’t know about your story, but should.
Usually they know the next question asks for their premise, and they’re pretty comfortable and ready for that one.
And they quickly forget about what came before it. In that case…
Too often, the two answers — and what follows — don’t connect.
You can identify a concept (perhaps in the moment, in retrospect), but when you get down to the business of describing your story that concept leaves the building.
Because it was never there in the first place.
Which leaves the story without a conceptual layer, something that is appealing before and separate from the characters and plot themselves.
A missed opportunity, that. And when the concept was there, however briefly, and then disappears, it’s a fumble, resulting (using football jargon here) in a turnover.
Which in this case usually costs you the ballgame.
Check out this case study, you’ll see how this fumble looks in print.
Click on this link — SF Concept Case 9-18 — to read a short Kick-Start Concept/Premise analysis where this is precisely what happened.
The learning is this: notice how potentially compelling the concept is, as a story landscape. And then, how less than compelling the premise becomes when it fails to harness the inherent power of that concept.
A concept is a promise to the reader: you will enjoy the contextual landscape of this story, because it empowers the story.
It’s a promise you should make from an informed basis, and when it comes to pitching your work, definitely not one you should break.
Want to see if your concept and premise are playing well together?
Click HERE for the skinny on my Kick-Start Concept/Premise Analysis. If you can find a better $95 investment in your story — because your story depends on this — please tell me where it is.