Pub Rants

A Quick Look At Tag lines

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STATUS: Come on rain! Don’t just be cloudy and not give it up. Pour gosh darn it!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PUMP IT UP by Elvis Costello

I’m getting ready for tonight’s workshop so I’m reviewing all the tag lines submitted by the workshop attendees. I asked all participants to submit one sentence as a baseline. So we can do a before and after during the workshop–which is often fun to see.

In other words, I don’t expect everyone to have nailed that tag line. It’s often hard to nail your plot catalyst in one sentence–especially if you’ve never really done it before. Hence the workshop.

But in reading them in prep, I can give my blog readers a bit of insight into what I think these attendees are struggling with. In the workshop, I’m going to clearly explain how to nail a plot catalyst tag line and then how to build your query pitch around that–using three different approaches.

Problem 1: The writer is trying to summarize the novel in the tag line.

Wrong use for it. You just want to nail your plot catalyst. But great, we’ll talk about it tonight.

Problem 2: The writer is relying on reader’s previous knowledge of a story or fairytale.

Not a bad starting point but it’s not going to be quite enough to carry the cornerstone of your pitch. Will work on that tonight.

Problem 3: The writer highlights two necessary elements of the story but alas, in the tag line, they don’t have a relation or a cause and effect so mentioning both doesn’t quite make sense.

In other words, one doesn’t necessitate the other. I’ll just need to point that out and I think this writer will get it.

And there’s still time to sign up if you want to join us! Just click here. I’ll be getting the tag lines soon for any day registers. However, we are going to close the class in an hour or two so if you want to join in, don’t delay.

5 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    This should be interesting. I have one publisher who insists I write tag lines for every cover and I’m always stumped. Sometimes I nail it; sometimes I’m not sure.

    What I wonder is how many readers actually care about tag lines, especially now with e-books and shopping for e-books online where it’s often hard to read the tag line. Not to mention, as bas as this sounds, the tag line competes with my name and title.

    Ideally every book would be high concept and the tag line could read like “Snakes on a plane.” But that’s not always the case. I can’t even imagine how Franzen would do a tag line for Freedom…”Boring white people with too much time who can’t get it Together.”

    I think tag lines work sometimes. But not with all books. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

  2. A. M. Perkins said:

    Ms. Kristin – your description of Problem 1 makes me feel so much better.

    My tag line doesn’t summarize the novel and only references the plot catalyst. I was afraid I was doing something wrong but couldn’t think of any way around it.

    In a writer’s world of infinite self-doubt, a small “I got that right!” is a good feeling 🙂

  3. The Writer Librarian said:

    Bummed that I was too late to join this workshop. I find the biggest challenge in writing a tag line is whittling it down to the necessary elements without making it sound too generic.

  4. Lauren B. said:

    In screenwriting terminology, the one sentence pitch is known as a logline. Is a tagline for a book the same thing or something else?