Day 4 of PREPtober

Today we’re reducing our story idea to one sentence, aka the logline. We’ll talk about different sources for ideas and review some examples.


Hi everyone, and welcome to day four of Preptober. Now, hopefully you did a little more research and you have a really good feel and understanding for high concept, and we can boil that down into your one-sentence premise today. Just to review, high concept is things like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, The Matrix, Terminator, Transformers. Those are very visual and you know exactly who the protagonist is and what they want and what stands in their way. So those are definitely high-concept ideas, and so we want to get your book into a very easy-to-understand, high-concept idea just like those.

The first thing I would suggest is going to IMDB. Now, IMDB, even if the movie producers and Hollywood or whoever, even if it’s a book turned into a movie, has not done a good job of boiling that down into one phrase for you. IMDB has. So not everything has it, but a lot of the books and movies, I shouldn’t say books, but the movies and the TV shows have one-liners that quickly explain to someone breezing through that site very quickly what that show or movie is about, what the protagonist wants and what stands in their way. And they’ve made it very visual, not even with just the pictures that they’ve chosen to display, but just the wording and the copy for that. So I think that is an excellent place to look for ideas. And just search within your genre. If it’s cozy mysteries or if it is thrillers or romance, and look for other books that have similar sort of taglines to get your brain sort of kick-started into being creative that way.

The second thing I would suggest, and this may not be something you can do, but I would contact anybody you know who works in advertising, and specifically someone who works for a marketing agency, because marketing agencies are forever tasked with taking huge, boil the ocean ideas and shrinking those down into a tiny one-liner because they don’t want to bore people with a ton of copy, because nobody wants to look at a product and read a five-page article on it. Maybe that’s a white page, but you still need to hook them in with a one-liner, and sometimes on those commercials, they are only 15 seconds, and you don’t have a lot of time to get across your message and convey to someone how emotionally appealing that product is. So I think even if your advertising friend has never worked in book publishing, or even reads books, they will be excellent, I promise, at helping you with coming up with a one-liner for your book.

Another awesome place to look, obviously, is on Amazon and simply, or not Amazon, sorry, Goodreads, and simply search for “high-concept novels” and a ton will come up. And you could read the descriptions that they have in there as well, but I still think IMDB is your first and primary choice when it comes to looking for good one-liners, but high-concept ideas you can also Google in Goodreads.

I hope that was helpful, and if this is really tough for you, go ahead and break it into two sentences. I know, it’s not the best, but if it’s really that tough, I don’t want you to get stuck, because we’re moving on to day 5 tomorrow, which I can tell you in two seconds is how to solidify your premise. So we will do a premise audit tomorrow to make sure it’s in the right place, and I know this is three days on premise and high concept, but it is so important, and I promise it is going to help you shape and put all the details in for your characters, for your scenes, for your conflict, and if you can’t get the high concept down, you’ve kind of lost everything for the rest of the book.

All right, I hope that was helpful, and I will see you guys tomorrow. Bye!

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