What Binds a Group?
Groups are not clumps. They are conglomerations of individuals, bound together (to various degrees) by an aspect of shared interests or traits. Sometimes the common theme can be an ideology, occupation, physical condition, or situation. Sometimes the only thread of similarity is that they all gathered together to be an audience.
Do readers of novels “group” as an audience? Certainly not in the physical sense, yet fans of a particular writer or genre or subject matter are bound by their common interest. Regular viewers of a television series start out as individuals and become a group through bonding of experience. They know the classic “bits” and the characters’ idiosyncrasies. In fact, the series’ audience becomes a group representing a fictional culture that ultimately becomes one more sub-cultural template in actual society. Works can indeed create groups as well as attract them.
What Binds Us All Together
What of the “captive” audience that has no sense of what they are about to experience, yet are gathered in a classroom or reception room or boardroom or theater? What of the audience attending the first telecast of a new series, knowing little of what to expect?
Underneath all the common threads binding an audience together is a group of individuals. Each one is responsive to the same essential mental processes as the next. It is this intrinsic sameness — not of ideas but of the way in which ideas are formed — that makes us all part of the group we call humans. At this most basic level, we are all part of the same group.
Throughout this book we have stressed the difference between storyforming and storytelling. A clear communication requires succinct storyforming. Communicating clearly requires appropriate storytelling.
What makes storytelling appropriate? The fact that the symbols used to encode the storyform are both understood in denotation and connotation by the intended audience. If the audience misreads the symbols, the message will be weakened, lost, or polluted.
Identifying with one’s audience is not enough: one must also identify one’s audience. It is all well and good to feel part of the group. But it can be a real danger to assume that identification with a group leads to clear communication in appropriate symbols or clear reception by all audience members.
From the Dramatica Theory Book