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If Closure Is What You’re After…

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Perception is the fundamental tool of how storytelling works. There are two roles: Author (the person telling the story) and Audience (the person receiving the story). Authors need to acquire a connection to their readers to make a story successful and the audience needs to have some sort of connection to allow it to relate or feel some personal stakes involved in a story. In order to create such a connection, the audience and the author must share a common bond: imagination.

Imagination is the ability that was initially used to predict events that had not yet happened. Some of these predictions were accurate while others were far-fetched. Imagination further developed into something a little more fictional. Imagination gave people the ability to transport their minds into the body of a character in a story being told, a far away world, or even an alternate form of existence. Of course imagination can only go so far. The main driving force behind a story is closure.

Once a story has hooked the audience with the initial interest, it’s the author’s job to keep things interesting so that the audience will want to see things through to the end. That being said, one way to capture and hold the audience’s interest is by using something called suspense. A comic illustrated by Scott McCloud vividly illustrates the role that closure plays.

In the comic, McCloud begins his discussion of closure by introducing a comic strip comprised of a monster bringing an axe down on a man on one slide, and a city skyline with screaming in the next. One of the most important points he makes is “to kill a man between slides is to condemn him to a thousand deaths.” The audience takes part of the story as much as the author does. Some things, like a murder scene, may seem tabooed, and some people may claim censorship as the reason why they cut things like that out of a story, but that still can’t stop the audience from imagining what was not shown. The un-displayed material is what makes the story interesting. Reading between the lines adds an extra level of depth and perception to the story, thus making it a more realistic, if not enjoyable experience, and those feelings are what drives the memorability of a story that makes storytelling both a science and an art.

As a reader, I enjoyed reading graphic novels. As an author, I enjoyed writing short stories, narratives, and short comic strips. When I read McCloud’s work, I was able to see the points he was trying to get a cross. I found the experience both creative and indulging. I would recommend reading this if to you, my audience, if you have the spare time, or are an aspiring storyteller.

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