Catch-phrases, tropes , taglines…

... none of those is the correct term. What I’m looking for might become a catch-phrase, trope, or tagline, but neither is the term that matches the concept I’m thinking of. I spent about an hour on Google trying to find the term before giving up. That might say something about my attention span, but it might also mean there is no specific term to use.

Here’s what I’m looking for…

There comes a time in the story – it could be a book, movie, or TV show – where our characters are at a crossroads and need to make a decision. They are probably facing insurmountable odds, and the options are few. Not only are they few, but they’re all evil. Yet, there’s really no time to debate the lesser of those evils. So, the hero delivers a one-liner that says, for all intents and purposes: This is what we’re doing. Sure, we’re all going to die, but what the hell?


What plan? I’m making this up as I go along. –Indiana Jones

Can’t swim? What are you worried about? The fall will probably kill you. –Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid before they jump off the cliff into the river.

I’m too old for this shit. –Danny Glover, any number of times in the Lethal Weapon movies just before he risks his life… again.

I have one I like to use in my everyday life: What could happen?

It’s really a contraction of, “What’s the worst that could happen?” It’s usually prefaced by a phrase, such as “don’t worry,” or “trust me,” that is intended to allay a certain level of fear, yet acknowledge that the excrement could really hit the fan if we follow through on what we’re about to do.

I had my beloved character, Nicole, use it recently when writing a scene in the upcoming Red Wolf Rising, just before she set Clifford up for a life-threatening confrontation with the Chinese assassin, Wei.

Anyway, whatever the correct term is for such a literary convention, I’m thinking of adopting it as my author tagline.

A tagline is a memorable phrase or slogan that sums up the tone or premise of a brand. My marketing guys tell me an author needs one to follow his name on the inside flap of the cover, to go along with his bio, to put up on his website. Something that will become associated with the author and conjure up images (preferably good ones?) when readers hear it.

Marketing. Sigh. I know, right? So…

What could happen?

I like it. I think it fits. Why?

Because it’s a question I asked myself…

…for nearly forty years. What could happen if I started writing? What if I wasn’t any good? How would folks judge me spending so much effort on something that ultimately failed? What would people think about me when they found out about the crazy stuff going on in my head?

Or, what if people really liked what I wrote and I became rich and famous? So famous that I had to hide away in some mansion, remote and gated for security in order to get some privacy, pursued by beautiful women who were only attracted to fame and fortune and didn’t really care about the real me inside? (Okay, maybe I could deal with that, but you see what I mean, right?)

Because it’s a question that feeds…

… my imagination, unfettered by the confines of the box we’re all taught to solve day-to-day problems within. Some folks believe that anything the human mind can imagine is possible. What could happen if that’s true?

Because we all need…

… someone who’s willing to end the debate, to throw up their hands in a damn-the-consequences gesture, and take some action.

Trees aren’t just for recycling the air we breathe; they’re also for climbing. Limbs aren’t just for holding leaves; they’re for stepping out on.

I mean, really, what could happen?


If you’d like to find out what could happen if your girlfriend turned you into a werewolf to fulfill an ancient prophecy, check out the Red Wolf novels below. Or, just scroll on past and leave a comment.

Until next time... Happy Reading!

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------

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ebook for Kindle                                            in Paperback     
ebook for Nook                                              in Charlotte                    
ebook for Kobo                                              Smashwords

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                                                   in Paperback
ebook for Nook                                                                     in Charlotte
ebook for Kobo                                                                     Smashwords


  1. Too true! I love how you bring to light the small, yet incredibly important catch phrase that often defines us, conflict or even resolution.
    My personal catch phrase is 'one life'. I say this to everyone because there are no mistakes just experiences.


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