Why a Poster and Book Cover is like a Movie Tagline

Electric Chair

The Level

I am not much of a traditionalist when it comes to teaching creativity, being, as I am, a great believer in using an interdisciplinary methodology to help solve persistent creative problems. A frontal assault is not always the best way to break down barriers. One often needs to tackle the problem laterally.

I recently had the privilege of delivering a course on how to create effective film loglines and taglines. Towards the end of the course I had the idea of warping things up by introducing a different approach to logline and tagline creation.

A logline, we are reminded, is the summation of the story, sans the ending, that introduces the main conflict, the protagonist and antagonist, and identifies that which must be learnt or acquired in order to fulfill the goal. A tagline, by contrast, is a phrase or sentence that captures some essential aspect of the story—in Apollo 13, the tagline is: Huston, we have a problem.

The exercise I set my students during class, was to have them envisage the essence of a story, not through the logline and tagline, as per usual, but by designing a poster or book cover instead. I emphasised that it didn’t matter whether they were skilled artists or not. What was important was to capture the spirit of the story as a graphic. They could “paint” a word portrait and use stick and block drawings to fill in the gaps, if need be.

The exercise was a wonderful success and threw up many interesting renditions of the story. It also proved the point that the creative process works best when using a multidisciplinary approach.

In much the same way, the book cover of my new novella, The Level, which is being released on Amazon in early June, captures an essential aspect of the story, and this, without giving too much away.

The book cover features a quintessential object from the story in a dark but intriguing way, and encourages the reader to ask the question: What is the role of the chair in the tale?

The tagline, which also draws heavily from the title, might well be: Many Lives. Many Levels. Which Level Are You?

True to form, the cover was designed before the tagline was developed and helped inspire some of The Level’s many twists and turns.


Using an offbeat multidisciplinary approach in tackling creative problems promotes inspiration and encourages insight.

2 thoughts on “Why a Poster and Book Cover is like a Movie Tagline

  1. Vanya D.

    That is one creepy cover! Sadly, it’s really not my kind of read. But I wanted to let you know that I get your point on how important a cover is. I’m sure the cover of The Level will appear to a lot of horror enthusiasts 🙂

    1. Stavros Halvatzis Post author

      Thanks for the comment! Paradoxically, the book has more to do with the transcendent and pervasive nature of love, and sentience, than horror! But, yes, the cover is creepy—in a good way!


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