A logline is a short pitch that sets up the story. It is intended to sell the story idea in just a sentence or two. A tagline is even shorter and is typically used to sell movies to an audience on a poster or billboard.
If the purpose of a logline is to attract interest in the story by creating the right expectation in agents, producers and the audiences, a tagline points to the specific emotions solicited by that story and may help the writer in the writing of the tale. Taglines are usually attached to film projects, but can also be applied to stories of any format, such as the paperback or kindle novel.
“A tagline exposes the emotional core of a story.”
Although usually written last as part of the marketing strategy, coming up with the tagline from the get-go can help the writer focus on the emotions through-line of the story.
From a technically perspective, taglines consist of three key elements: a repeating or punchy sentence structure and an element of contrast that solicits a specific emotion. Here are some of my favourite taglines:
‘Imagine if you had three wishes, three hopes, three dreams…and they all came true.’ Aladdin
‘In space, no one can hear you scream.’ Alien
‘Honour made him a man.
Courage made him a hero.
History made him a legend.’ Rob Roy
‘Someone said “Get a life” – so they did.’ Thelma And Louise
‘This is Benjamin…He’s a little worried about his future.’ The Graduate
‘A story of Love, Laughter and the Pursuit of Matrimony.’ Muriel’s Wedding
‘Don’t breathe. Don’t look back. The Dark Side of Nature.’ Twister
‘Everything is Suspect. Everyone for Sale. Nothing is what it seems.’ L.A. Confidential
A tagline highlights a specific emotion. It is used for marketing purposes but is also helpful in writing the story.