Is It Possible To Make Any Subject Interesting?

As I goofed around on the interwebs, I came across this image.

unimaginative

I found it linked to this post.

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:

bear potato

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.

grass-383284_1280

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.

18 thoughts on “Is It Possible To Make Any Subject Interesting?

  1. Pingback: What’s More Important: Content Or Style? | Allison Maruska

  2. The most sensual scenes in my WIP involve grass…and a woman with an al fresco inclination. As for boring, it’s never the subject but the length…keep it short and wanting more I find works…far too many blog posts I give up reading as too long…best to make a point and leave…maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree 100%. I bail on long posts too. When I was in high school, when we asked how long our papers had to be, our teacher answered, “Keep it like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep things interesting.” Ha! If the teacher wasn’t a woman she might not have been able to get away with such instructions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello, Allison,

    Your post is kind of motivation to us. We must put our efforts to make the boring stuff interesting, and your grass description is a clear example of intense thinking. Once we are done writing and read it back, it gives us immense pleasure. The grass appears marvelous!

    Thanks for the post.

    Vijay Kumar Kerji

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have always believed a topic is interesting if the presenter is enthusiastic about it. A boring person could make sex sound dull, and an excited person could make a conversation about growing grass interesting.

    I believed that.

    Right up until your brain wanted to escape through your ear.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked the grass prose. I believe one can make a seemingly boring thing interesting by what is written about it. Boring is subjective so I tend to believe writers can be boring vs. things being boring. Things are things. They are not animated. The writer can either make them sound animated or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, great point about animating things, and it’s true for any art form. It’s up to the artist/writer to use the thing to tell a story or reflect something about human nature.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The poet Bill Holm challenged his students to write about box-elder bugs. When Bill challenged himself, the result was a book called The Boxelder Bug Variations.

    In the same spirit, I challenged myself to write about very simple things: my car, my dishwasher, my closet, my coffee maker. The result was a My Stuff series of essays that was a heck of a lot of fun and moved my writing forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Some of my favorite writers frequently use long descriptive paragraphs, but somehow make them feel like “part of the action”. With other authors, I find myself skimming when they start going on and on about “grass” (my brain frequently wants to escape out my ear when my husband talks about work too!!!). On an unrelated note, I want to take a road trip with that potato.

    Liked by 2 people

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