As I goofed around on the interwebs, I came across this image.So of course I started brainstorming – what are truly boring things a writer could try to make interesting? A potato? A rug? This post??
I suppose it depends on the details. Maybe the rug is Aladdin’s and you can ride around on it. Maybe the potato looks like this:
That wasn’t really the question, though. Aladdin’s rug and that potato are unique and therefore more interesting.
In one of my writing strategy books, the author described an exercise he assigned his college-level writing students. They were to write to two prompts – one loaded with conflict and the other boring on the surface. He found that better writing occurred with the boring topic, because the students had to stretch themselves in an effort to make it interesting.
Keep in mind we’re talking straight description here, which in a narrative doesn’t lend itself to being interesting. That’s why anyone studying how to write fiction learns to keep action-free description brief.
Or do they? While I lean light on description, I’ve seen some amazing work that included longer descriptive paragraphs. So maybe we should give it a shot.
I just racked my brain for half a second to come up with the most boring topic I could think of – grass. No, not that kind. Though I live in Colorado so I can see why you’d go there.
I’m talking about lawn grass, which I happen to think is especially boring because 1. Come on, grass is boring, and 2. My husband landscapes, finds grass interesting, and wants to talk to me about it. Where it’s growing. Where it’s dying. Why it’s dying. If this goes on long enough, I can actually feel my brain trying to escape through my ear to find more interesting stimuli.
So here goes. My sure-to-be-epic descriptive paragraph about grass. Sorry if I turn the grass purple with the prose.
Gentle blades reach upwards, thirsting for the sun’s light. Soft and pliable as fine leather yet delicate as an onion skin, they shine with the morning dew. Millions gather, forming a verdant carpet that graces Mother Nature’s doorstep, a welcoming swath of life waiting for her guests to arrive.
That’s pretty short, and it still took longer to write than it should have.
So how did I do? And more importantly, what do we think about the idea that there are no boring subjects?
We may need more data. Maybe one of my blogger friends who hosts flash fiction challenges would like to take this up, or if you’d like, pick out a subject you think is boring and have at it in the comments section of this post. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover dryer lint is more interesting than you thought.