Dean Koontz recently released a podcast regarding his new novel, The Good Guy, and he notes it's one of several high concept books he's offered up of late. It's sort of a "put your typing fingers where your advice is" exercise, he explains.
He tells beginning writers that high concept--something that can be summed up in a sentence or two--is easier for publishers to latch onto. Faced with those who noted many of his books aren't so simple, he decided, starting with Velocity to turn out some thrillers that are both worthwhile and high concept.
Velocity - Guy gets a call from a killer who forces him to choose the killer's next victim.
The Husband - Working man gets call his wife has been kidnapped and he has to come up with $2 million he doesn't have to save her. (Or maybe it's thriller meets Running With Scissors.)
The Good Guy - Wrong man is mistaken for hired killer and sets out to save the intended victim.
Koontz places an average guy at the core of each situation, offers a deep and involving look at his soul, and keeps the pages turning. That mixture certainly dovetails with Charles' recent discussion on the importance of character and thrills. (Who cares if the guy's running with scissors or from scissors if you don't know who he is?)
I think my new project is high concept though I won't jinx it by offering that sentence here.
Maybe I'll just throw out some random ones. Maybe, just maybe it's an exercise that can cure writer's block:
The Exorcist meets Die Hard.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington meets The Devil's Rejects.
North by Northwest meets The Seventh Seal. (Think about it: Death in a crop duster chasing Cary Grant.)
Play along at home if you like and stop chuckling. This is how Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man came about. Curt Siodmak was joking around about movie titles at the Universal commissary one day and wound up with an assignment.