First, I’d like to wish you all health and success in 2020. Happy New Year, Everyone! As I continue to crawl forward in revision on my college memoir, I’m thinking about loglines and taglines. When I researched online about these pitching tools for fiction or memoir, I gleaned the following definitions from blogs and webinars at writerly sites:
A Logline gives the gist of your book in a sentence. It tells something about the main character, the conflict, and the stakes. So, the WHO, the WHAT, and the WHY of your story.
A Tagline is a catchphrase that sucks the reader in. It’s the idea behind your book. Also known as the hook. It might be on the front cover of your book. The tagline’s job is to evoke emotion.
According to JennieNash of Author Accelerator, a pitch or logline is one line that gives some sense of the character arc of change; who they are, what the plot is, and where the plot goes.
Okay, so how do we do it? I found some questions that are helpful to answer when creating a logline and/or a tagline. So I answered them.
WHO is your main character? Victoria, a mother of 5 young children
WHERE does the story take place? South Jersey home and college campuses
WHAT is the situation? Victoria tries to allow her special needs daughter Marie a chance at living her dream of attending college, but they are told Marie would never succeed.
WHY does it matter? Victoria was told the same thing when she wanted to attend college.
HOW does the character solve the problem? By swallowing her own fear of failure and beginning college herself first.
Now that we know who, where, what, why, and how, we condense it into what we as writers hope is a pithy logline.
“A South Jersey mom of five gives her special needs daughter the opportunity of college by swallowing her own fear of failure and beginning college first.”
Does it work?
I think there’s an arc of change in the protagonist, the mom, from a paralyzing fear of failure to actually beginning college.
We know what happens; she’s going to attempt college.
And we know why it matters to her; she wants to help her daughter.
Of course the story is much more involved than just these few pieces, but does it make someone want to read the whole book?
The tagline, the idea behind the book, according to our definition, the hook. The tagline is supposed to evoke emotion. I came up with many, but here are two I’ll share for your comment.
Every important journey begins with doubt.
Find permission within yourself to begin a difficult journey.
What are your thoughts on these? Do they evoke emotion? Is doubt even an emotion? Does finding permission within oneself sound more personal? Can other people [readers] relate easier to it than the more general statement about journeys beginning with doubt? Is finding permission more original?
These are necessary questions for all writers to consider as they try to condense their stories into pithy loglines and taglines.
*Please feel free to offer any insight or ask any questions regarding the details of my college memoir logline or taglines. It would be truly appreciated.*
Has anyone prepared a logline or tagline for their story? I’m interested in how you came to condense your story into a sentence or two. Please share any tips you may have about loglines or taglines in the comments section of Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much!
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32 thoughts on “Loglines and Taglines for Fiction or Memoir #AuthorToolboxBlogHop”
I like your tagline but wish you could leave a little more uncertainty to whether she will succeed.
Like Natalie, I think it's good just needs a little more punch. Those are hard to do though! I've had to do taglines for my books before. My publisher wants them short-short-short, which is a real challenge.
I have little experience at this, but I'll share my thoughts, Victoria Marie. I like the tagline "Every important journey begins with doubt." It's shorter and more straightforward. Loglines are tough! Something like this feels like it flows better to me. “A South Jersey mom encourages her special needs daughter to go to college by confronting her own fear of failure and beginning college first.” Good luck!
Good advice Victoria – I read that you should be able to grab a reader's attention in no more than five words, which can be quite a challenge!
I've read about and tried taglines, but I hadn't made the connection you make here with the who/what/when/where/why questions. That makes it so much easier to start! Instead of grasping for these out of thin air, it gives me a standing point to begin. Thank you!
Thank you for the advice! I appreciate the way you've broken this down… sometimes these novel pitches/loglines feel tricky–what should be included and what not? Thanks for mapping it out piece by piece. Cheers!
I was told to use this recipe for loglines: Protagonist’s character traits + goal X'd with Antagonist’s character traits and resulting conflict. Choose words that reflect: genre, setting, + tone. And include the stakes through the consequences of failure.
When it comes to taglines, I think of Santa Claus's… This Christmas, the snow hits the fan.
I hope this helps. 🙂
Anna from elements of emaginette
This was really interesting to follow your process! I haven't used loglines as much, but I've used taglines often with fantasy/horror novels. It's tricky at first but you get the hang of it after a while. Thank you for sharing this!
Nice distinction between taglines and loglines!
I like this one better: Every important journey begins with doubt.
It's shorter, and it's a universal question: what important journey have I missed out on because of doubt?
I love your definitions! Thank you for the questions and the clarification 🙂
This info is just in time as I am working on a project and trying to figure that one. Thank you. Great tips.
Interesting, Natalie, leaving more uncertainty as to whether she succeeds. Perhaps you mean choose better words that show the protagonist will struggle or possibly might fail at this endeavor? In the tagline, I talk about struggling with doubt and beginning a difficult journey.
I truly appreciate your insight here at Adventures in Writing, Natalie. Seriously, this is totally helpful to my story. Enjoy your weekend!
Oh my gosh, Alex, it is definitely a challenge. More punch! Got it boss. Not easy to do, as you say. I really appreciate your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It so helps me move forward with this memoir project. Enjoy your weekend!
Thank you so much for this! I so appreciate your input regarding the logline. I see how much punchier it could be without the "Mom of five" detail in it.
I really appreciate your sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It really helps. Thank you for your good wishes. I truly need them. All best to you!
Wow, Tony! Only five words? Yikes! I need so much help to be able to do that. Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. I've got a long road ahead of me, as they say. All best to you, sir!
My pleasure, S.E. The questions truly helped me. Glad this information helps. I really appreciate your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing! Thank you so much for your comment. I feel pitches and loglines are indeed tricky. I'm glad you found this advice helpful. Please stop by again. Enjoy your weekend!
This is very helpful, Anna! Thanks so much. Really. I've never thought of it this way. There are so many methods to writing and pitching and marketing.
Thank you so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It really helps. All best to you, my dear!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Marlena! Thank you so much for your comment. Good for you navigating taglines for fantasy and horror. I bet it's tricky! Thanks again for stopping by Adventures in Writing. Please stop by again!
Thank you so much, Iola, for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It really helps me. Yes, I think journeys beginning with doubt seem more universal. I'm still at the point of deciding whether I want a more universal or a more personal tagline.
I really appreciate your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Thank you for your kind words. Have a beautiful weekend!
My pleasure, Erika. And thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!
Wonderful, Juneta! I'm so glad I could help. Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!
I know a fair amount about taglines for brands, but haven't had to write one for a book yet. There are a few alternative formulas for loglines out there. Yours are good, too, but for fun, see if you can fit your logline into this formula, for instance: When INCITING INCIDENT happens, CHARACTER must overcome OBSTACLE or else STAKES. You can also google "logline formula" fiction and see what other ones you find.
I saw your blog come in on Tuesday, but haven’t had a moment to comment yet. It was a timely post, as on Wednesday it was the IWSG Twitter Pitch Party. 280 characters are allowed to pitch your book here, so it’s a bit more than the usual logline. Thanks for also bringing up “tagline”, as I had no idea what the difference was.
Your logline sums the book up nicely, but I like the one Fundy Blue suggests a bit better. I also prefer your first tagline to the second one. But – and this might be just me – does every important journey start with doubt? Is that a claim to make? Maybe there’s a better word for doubt? Trepidation?
I’ve spent hours to come up with a logline for my memoir in progress, but I’ll have to get my computer out to find that one. It’s not very catchy, as it is a one-sentence summary.
As far as the tweets go for me pitching this memoir on Wednesday, here are two examples (I wrote about ten different ones!):
“Falling in love with the guy next door on an RV adventure with her partner, a free-spirited woman has two choices: continue her passion of traveling or stay with her new lover. Her decision sends her on a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment… at sea.”
“Join a nomad on her stormy path of love, loss, freedom, and adventure as she leaps into a life less ordinary with her man: an 8-year sailing journey, 2 dogs, 24/7 together, a business at sea, and life-altering twists. Will they survive it all?”
Great advice here, Raimey. Thanks so much for sharing this on Adventures in Writing. I truly appreciate it. Enjoy your weekend!
Yes, I wondered about “doubt.” Should I use a hedge word instead of “every”? Maybe say “most” journeys begin with doubt or “this” journey begins with doubt? It takes courage to begin a journey, as you know Liesbet. You need to take a chance and see what happens so you’re not left with regret.
You have great pitches here. The trick is to make them snappy. Not that I’m any good at this. But have you considered: “An eight-year sailing adventure leads to a life less ordinary, filled with love, loss, and unimaginable twists. But can they stay the course?”
There’s always more in the book than what is in your short pitch. It’s always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. All the luck with your pitching!
Victoria, I think you got it in this comment! You fixed your own “issue” I think and came up with the perfect tagline in your response to me above: “It takes courage to begin a (new) journey.” That is right on! 🙂
Thanks for the new approach to my pitch!
Oh my gosh, Liesbet! I think you may be right. Thank you so much for drawing my attention to this. Many times I don’t realize what’s right in front of me.
I truly appreciate your kind words and your response here at Adventures in Writing. This helps me move forward indeed! Have a beautiful week!
Goal, Motivation, Conflict is always a useful way to look at your story to figure out a logline, as well, but the Who, What, When, Where, Why approach works equally well. Great information! You broke it down well.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Shannon. I greatly appreciate them. And thanks for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful week!
This is a blessing
Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate them. And thanks for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful week!