How do you come up with winning story ideas?
In the absence of hindsight, use High Concept:
1. Set your story in a unique or challenging environment such as communist China, (Red Corner).
2. Ensure that your story ideas contain high stakes. This sets the stage for a big story – Air Force One where POTUS is held hostage on his plane, or 12 Monkeys in which a virus threatens to wipe out humanity.
3. Choose the correct protagonist: Liar, Liar (a lawyer who has to tell the truth for a whole day).
4. Pick a fresh and powerful dilemma: John Q (a father takes the hospital hostage demanding they perform a heart transplant on his dying son).
5. Select a unique strategy for your protagonist to pursue. Memento: A man who can only remember a few minutes at a time tries to track down his wife’s killer by tattooing his body with key words and instructions.
“Winning story ideas benefit by drawing on High Concept.”
Of course, success depends on your getting many other factors right too, but using these suggestions will increase the commercial potential of your story.
I used some of my own advice in my first novel, Scarab, which grabbed the number one bestsellers spot on Amazon.com and amazon.co.uk in its genre of hard science-fiction upon its release. Here’s the core idea:
“Buried in a hidden chamber beneath the great Sphinx of Giza, lies the most potent secret in history. Older than the pyramids, older than Atlantis, it has the ability to change the world. Powerful men will do anything to possess it. There is just one thing standing in their way – the living Sphinx itself.”
The concept formed the basis for an intriguing story, as indicated by the book sales.
Use High Concept to generate winning story ideas with high commercial potential.
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