Friday, February 15, 2013

Best Five Movie Taglines and Why You Should Have One

We are always selling something, our abilities to do a job, our version of an argument, the movie that we want to see this weekend, the fruits of our work, our books, our stories. Marketing and negotiating are abilities that should be ingrained in us, they should come naturally. Instead, we struggle to make those sales.

Few areas instill more horror into regular folks than Marketing (if you don't do that for a living, that is), specially for authors. The world of Literature is a complex world where you're in for the love of the art, hoping you might become the next JK Rowling, or simply because the voices compelled you (I'm with the latter if you wonder).

Those who view Literature as an Art are a very selective, posh, tiny group of writers and critics that will pretty much pander everyone who makes money out of their books; which, by the way, do not require of a dictionary to read. They are elitists against every form of marketing because Art is not for sale.

But if you're reading this, you probably aren't with them and so, you need to learn how to sell your work. An awesome blurb, a killer cover, a few nods from some better-known fellas, and a tagline are your best weapons. Today we'll focus on the last one there.

Taglines are nothing new in the marketing world. They have been proven to be an effective way to make a brand memorable. Think of Nike's "Just Do It," or Loreal's "Because You're Worth It." Movies, of course, were the natural progression; now, books, on the other hand, have not embraced the idea all that warmly. Once again, the elitists run the show by saying that your story should sell itself--if you so want to cheap your art, that is--so taglines are a sure sign of tackiness. Then again, we've stablished you are no snub. So, why haven't you written one?

There are genres that lend themselves perfectly for taglines, like Horror, Romance, and Young Adult in particular. Span-attention-challenged teens will have a hard time choosing between a bazillion Post-Apocalyptic sagas, or Paranormal Romances, and remembering titles/authors is just out of the question. This is how a tagline can set you apart and incline a reader toward the cash register with your book in hand.

Ok, so I got your interest now. But how to write one?

Well, it has to be short, powerful, intriguing, and memorable. It needs to reflect the style of your story and the atmosphere. I would make it two lines at the most. If there is comedy in your piece, make it sassy; if the language is that of young people, use idioms; if it is a mystery, ask questions. The closest thing that can give you an idea of how it is done are movies. So, I recommend you check the most memorable taglines in the genre of your book and used them as inspiration.

In this spirit, I have here the Five Most Memorable Horror Taglines I've found. Let's analyze them...

5. "It started in May in a small town. And every month after that whenever the moon was full... It came back." ~Silver Bullet (1985) 

This one tells you it is a werewolf story and that a whole town is involved somehow. Not the brightest, but still effective in setting the suspenseful atmosphere.

4. "They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and cities will be your tombs." ~Demons (1985) 

This one I like in particular because I hated the movie. You see, the tagline is so good that even if I couldn't handle the movie, I still remember it. It is dark, scary, and paints a bleak future for the human race. Bestselling features all.

3. "The last man on earth is not alone." ~I am Legend (2007)

Holy cow! Eight little words say so much! Now, this uses 'antithesis', a resource that will punch your brain and force you to re-read and think about the hidden meaning. The last man, but he's not alone?! Oh, shit! Elegant, simple, and effective.

2. "Between the world we see and the things we fear there are doors. When they are open, nightmares become reality." ~A Haunting. TV Show.

Now, this one appeals to our inner demons. We all have nightmares and we are thankful they stay like that, but messing with reality and blurring the line between dreams and our everyday lives is a scary prospect where going crazy, ironically, would be the best case scenario.

1. "When there's no more room in Hell, the death will walk the earth." ~Dawn of the Dead (1978) 

This movie is a classic and its tagline is just as memorable. Its prophetic kinda statement is scary as hell and it manages to put a grotesque image in our heads that has endured for decades. It is the reason zombies are at the top of the scary machine.

So, I hope these inspire you to go write an awesome tagline for your book. Do you remember a tagline that has stayed with you for years? Which one, and why?

Remember, research within your genre and go for it. Be bold, be different, don't be afraid.


Anonymous said...

Blake Snyder in Save The Cat, really emphasizes the importance of a well-written tagline. It's much more difficult to do on your own work. You always want to include so much of the story.

Elizabeth Twist said...

"Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas."

~Army of Darkness.

Shelly said...

Excellent post on taglines. I wrote mine over and over along with my blurb. it was almost like punishment.

Hugs and chocolate,

Anonymous said...

Those are awesome. I'm used to writing pitches and synopses, but I'd like to have taglines in mind too.

Yolanda Renee said...

Those are all excellent! I've got to get to work!

Georgina Morales said...

Julie, you are right. As much as I can see the greatness of these previous tag lines, I've been struggling for a month to find one as great for my book. Good luck to you!

I love that one, Elizabeth, and it's as popular as the movie itself! Thanks for sharing

Oh, Shelly, I so get it. It is like punishment to try and bottle greatness in a couple of lines...

Pitches are no easy feat either, so I guess you are half way there, Medeia! =)

Well, great! It makes me happy to think this posts has helped you in any way, Yolanda!

Nicole said...

Good advice on the tag. I like the Legend example the best.