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Middle sag syndrome

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Feb. 26, 2021

Beginnings and ends are usually the easiest to write when it comes to creating a comic. However, what do you do till you get from point A to B? Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing the middle bits that will help you keep your readers motivated and interested all the way through!

Plan out your story by creating an outline
An outline is your foundation. Even though details may change, knowing your major emotional beats maintains a steady narrative pace and prevents your story from the dreaded “middle sag”. Have you set up the world and the characters? What is their problem and how do they begin to engage with that challenge? How many curve balls do you want to throw and in what order? Plan for ups and downs for your characters and your readers. An outline will also prevent plot holes before they happen.

Make things go from bad to worse
Is the middle of your story boring? Then get in there and flip the table! Throw the characters further and further down the well, and make sure they hit every bump on the way. Make it horrible. Make them cry. You do not stop making it worse till they are at the bottom of your proverbial hill, crying and cursing your name. When they’re completely broken, that’s when you know you’ve done your job and you can begin to find ways to help them back up. Take into account the conventions of your genre whilst you are writing as that will give you an idea of what to push and when. Your characters need to fight tooth and nail, every step of the way and it’s your job to never make it easy.

Be aware of your subplots
Subplots are there to provide context to the main story and can also help balance out the mood or provide extra context to the main events of the plot. Explore the world and the characters that might be helping the main cast/protagonist. The middle is a great time to get into some smaller side stories and provide some added weight to the stakes.

Has the middle of your story ever sagged? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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hushicho at 5:16PM, Feb. 26, 2021

Creating an outline can help, though not all creators function well with too much structure. I think it's good to have a basic idea of generally where you want the story to go. It's also very good to keep track of subplots, especially if you plan to make them seem organic to the story. But please, for the love of Pete, Mike, and whoever else, don't be tempted to just make the story and the situation worse for your characters, as a way to keep people interested. It's often lazy and shows, and it's a very easy way to demonstrate your weaknesses in writing. Be very, very careful doing this. It's much more important to have respect for your characters and your readers. Even if it's a work entirely for you and your satisfaction, it doesn't show much respect for yourself if all you can do is be sadistic to get from point A to point B. Be more creative, I encourage. It may be more difficult, but it will be more likely to avoid burning bridges with your stories, characters, and audience.

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