January 26, 2011
Greetings from Small Talk Cards
The Art of The Title and Tagline
That was a great movie, Alfie, and a great song and a great plot back then. The English actor who played that part, (can U tell me his name?) is still working – in movies like Batman, hint …hint and Inception among others.
Alfie must be thirty years old, and a classic it is. The title really mattered in that movie and certainly hooked people into seeing it. So if you’re ever inclined to rent it, then you’ll understand why. I bet the actor who played that character will tell U it made him a star, but more importantly people always remember him because of that movie, especially Boomers.
So why do people go to such lengths to pick the right (write) title?
I look at the title of a book or the title of a movie as the vein running through every aspect of the piece. It won’t cause you to bleed to death, but it provides the necessary ingredients to make it work as it circulates through your minds-eye. If the title doesn’t fit the plot, it could cause you to lose a significant amount of your audience through the:” I heard it thru the grape vine -word of mouth ticket buyers.
Veins carry nutrients throughout the body like titles carry audience opinions throughout movie theatres and DVD rental stores. Even a store clerk will give you his honest opinion, if asked. Just the facts man!
When I watch a movie, I am, at some point, expecting someone or something in the movie to refer back to the title. I expect to be told why the author, or screenwriter(s), or playright chose that title: the title that hooked me and brought me through the door to purchase the ticket or buy the DVD. If I don’t see the title reflected or depicted somewhere in that movie, book or play, then I feel cheated or hoodwinked – like you brought me to this movie under false pretenses. If the movie is bad, then I want my money back.
So this vein, the title, can reel you in, or it can repel U and cause you not to purchase the ticket. Titles matter. That’s why authors must learn to master, “the art of choosing the right title” thru the use of a Tagline.
A Tagline Supports the Title (Vein) and the Plot(Artery).
A tagline asks U one specific question that can make or break your book, movie, or play, so U want to get it right or straight.
What is the movie about?
It’s a fair and logical question but there’s more to it. The Tagline asks U what your movie, book, or play is about in one sentence.
The tagline is all encompassing, it is the circulatory system of the vein and arteries of your piece. Therefore it is a constant that never breaks up or breaks down. It must circulate through the beginng, middle, and end of a story. You can actually see it.
An example of a tagline:
A little girl puts on a red cloak, picks up her basket, and walks through the woods to her grandmothers house -where she encounters a wolf. Just one sentence gives you the title, the plot, the action.
Example 2: The movie Predator: Tagline : An Alien (who can blend in with the forest), reaps havoc on an, unsuspecting, military rescue mission.
Start practicing “the Art of the Title and Tagline” for your favorite books or screenplay by listing ten of your favorite movies and ten of your favorite books or plays. Then state, in one sentence, what it was or is about, and see if you agree with the name given to the work by it’s author.
Even more importantly, see if it doesn’t help you detemine the best title for your movie, book or play.
Max Nightjar, STC