Novel writing is not a task to be scoffed at or taken lightly. It is a massive undertaking! Having a robust concept can help you keep a strong focus while taking plot deviations, encountering numerous characters and creating multiple twists and turns.
“I hold the world but as the world…
A stage where every man must play a part,”
Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
You might think of a concept as the stage for a play – it is not the characters, costume, audience, set, backdrop, etc., but it is the place where the story is enacted.
Writing your concept before you begin or in the early stages of writing your novel will help you stay focused. A comprehensive concept will also assist you in the rewriting stages, helping you to identify what doesn’t belong in your story, or parts of your story that need to sit closer to the concept.
“A story about discrimination and loneliness.” Does not make a compelling concept, so what exactly is a concept and how to you write an absorbing one?
What is a concept?
Simply put, a concept is the general idea of a story. A good concept creates questions from which the story can unfold.
A robust, strong concept contains what the whole story is about and is written, concisely, in one to three (maximum) sentences.
What a concept is NOT:
A concept is not the theme(s) within your novel, it is not a moral statement, it is not the details of the story itself, it is not the elements of a story, it is not a description of the setting in which the story takes place, it is not the plot points of the story, it is not the conflict or problems within the story, it is not the climax and resolution of the story, and it does not have to focus on character. These things will come from a strong concept, but they are NOT the concept.
How to generate your concept – see the ‘Generating a concept for your writing‘ worksheet here (also found on Resources page).