Episode 614: Kids Amplify the Feels

Zombie Cliche Lookout: Emotional Manipulation

It can be pretty hard to write a story that appeals emotionally to readers. That said, there are quite a few ways to cheat your way to tugging at the heart strings, and hack writers trot them out like they’re going out of style. Perhaps one of the most effective and reliable way to do that is to trot out the kids. From here, you’ve got a lot of options available. You can put the kids in danger, hurt them, or make them sick. Of course, some people don’t like doing this because it’s, well, awful.

Luckily, there’s a less awful option available. Put the kids in a tragic situation that doesn’t put them in any sort of physical pain or danger, but piles on the psychological hurt. Most people see upset children and instantly get upset. We have an instinctual need to protect and comfort children, so it plays well against those base urges.

The best part is, you’re only doing these horrific things to fictional characters, so it’s not actually evil. Right?

About this Episode:

I really wish there different heights on the short legs, so I could have Ted’s kids appear to be different ages. As it is, they look like they might be fraternal twins, or at least very close in age. That’s not really what I intend, but that’s a limitation in my chosen medium.

I suppose I could get around this by drawing the comic in Microsoft Paint, but that didn’t go over terribly well the last time I tried it.

Discussion Question: Manipulative Writing

As mentioned above, there are a lot of tricks that writers use and abuse to get certain reactions from their readers. Are these effective on you? So some work and others not? Do you think they’re legit, or more of a cheat?



here we go again he gonna die now or turn into a zombie


With comics I find the writing and images need to support each other. I agree that is much more of a challenge with Lego but you seem to make it work. Would not like to see any editing or Photoshop as that would take away from the legoness of the strip. I just like the Lego minifigs even with their limitations.


who say i.m say to bad comic im just say its a good comic i like the legos too im just say he turn into a zombie or die


Typo alert: “Perhaps one of the most effective and reliable way to do that is to trot out the kids.” way–>ways 😀


Well, I find it hard to consider the kids’ sadness as a cheat. After all, it would be weird if the kids barely reacted to their parent dying.


Loving the comic and storylines! As you say, writers do tend to trot out the same ideas time and again but, if something works, why change it? I don’t think they’re a cheat. If you know a particular scene will encourage certain emotions then surely that’s the best way to script that scene? 🙂

Also, do you storyboard your scenes before the build and position or do you just jump in and hope?

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