Tis the season to be jolly, and I have a milestone to announce to everyone!
And I also have an extra reason to celebrate as this is not only my last newspost of 2017 but also the 62nd newspost I’ve made! Hurray!
And since we’re on the subject of wrapping up things and moving on to the new stuff, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about cliffhangers, and especially how cliffhangers can be utilized for webcomics.
A cliffhanger happens when the story cuts off the moment something dramatic, unexpected, highly dangerous or highly emotionally charged occurs, leaving the audience anxious to see how it will be resolved. Usually it’s something that happens (or is done to) a character that the audience roots for one way or the other: a revelation, an injury, death, an unforeseen obstacle, and so on and so forth, that present themselves in a dramatic way.
A big cliffhanger always ups the ante, and compels the audience to want to keep reading. Cliffhangers are what usually make a book or a comic “impossible to put down” and in this case a webcomic “impossible to click away from”.
But there are also the smaller ones, that often even might not be called that, and which are essential to webcomics in particular:
Especially when it comes to webcomics, virtually every page needs to have some compelling element, a tiny cliffhanger of sorts, to keep the readers coming back for the next page, the next update. So there are the big cliffhangers- the bombshells that drop scarcely but are remembered as they affect the story since their occurrence- and the small ones- little scenes and interactions that aren’t fully wrapped up by the end of the page, so the reader will come to see how they finish in the next one.
These small cliffhangers take a lot of care and planning to occur. They can happen due to layout, dialogue or ‘directing’ (i.e. the cinematic arrangement of scenes, imagery and angles within a frame that makes them more compelling to follow for the audience).
For the smaller cliffhanger to work, every scene needs to be choreographed to have a peak (a climax) before its resolution, strategically occurring just before the page ends, preferably in the last frame of the page, while the scene’s resolution should occur on the next page’s top tiers.
Have you ever arranged your story this way in your webcomic? What elements do you utilize to create cliffhangers, big or small?
Happy New Year! See you in 2018!