HBPress Writing Guide: Concept

I know I’m a bit late in getting this segment of the guide posted. I had some trouble with files and I actually lost this post and the next post (I try to pre-write them). So then I had to rewrite them and I’ve actually been busy working on my own book so it’s taken me longer than expected to get this out. I apologize for that.

That said, let’s hit the next section.

Man, Thinking, Doubt, Question, Mark, Idea, Problem

By now you’ve taken the time to come up with your idea (see the previous installment if you missed it). You’ve searched deep inside of yourself for that thing that most excites you and you’ve made a generalized statement about it. The next step is to take that generalized statement and form it into a concept.

How does the concept differ from the idea? That’s a great question and the answer is that it doesn’t, but it does. Confusing, right?

Here’s why the answer is so confusing: The concept stage involves taking your idea statement and fleshing it out. So it’s still writing an idea statement, but with more details. At this point in time you start making decisions about your world, such as where the story is set and naming conventions. These might seem like a big deal, but aside from naming conventions, the details of your world will likely still be vague at this point.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Idea Statement: Hero goes on journey to capture a murderer in hopes of stopping a war.

Concept Statement: Dearic Thyne, the son of the King, seeks an accomplice to a murder tied to the kingdom’s enemies, and if he doesn’t succeed in capturing them and proving their enemy wasn’t involved, the whole Kingdom will enter into a devastating war.

Hero has become Dearic Thyne, son of the King. Journey to capture a murderer has become seeking the accomplice to a murder in order to prove the kingdoms enemy wasn’t responsible. Stopping a war still means stopping a war, but with the added connotation that the war will be devastating to their kingdom. This is actually the idea and concept for my first book: In The Shadow Of War.

But you can see how the two differ. Very general is now becoming more detailed. This is intentional because we want to go from a general idea down to a very detailed idea of the world and to an outline of the story, which is just a more detailed version of the concept statement.

So you’re probably asking how to go from the idea to the concept. Well, it depends on your concept and I can’t really tell you how to get there as it’s going to differ for everyone. For me, I had the idea and I knew that I wanted my main character to be the King’s son and I wanted to set up that the supposed enemy associated with the problem isn’t the real enemy, so I figured an accomplice to the murder would make that possible. So the problem was they had to find the accomplice to stop the war.

Just remember not to get too deep here or you’ll end up lost in the weeds of world building and you may never come back from that.

That’s it for the concept stage. Next we start developing the world because we need that in order to flesh out the characters, and we need those in order to take the concept into an outline.

Catch you next time and happy writing!

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