Not Everything is Exciting – How to Write About Boring Stuff

Posted by on Apr 25, 2014 in Business Writing | 1 comment

Not Everything is Exciting – How to Write About Boring Stuff

Sometimes as a freelance writer, you get to write awesome things. Occasionally someone will hire you to write a horror comedy about a swim team trapped on a space train full of aliens with chainsaws. (Which by the way, actually sounds like a freaking blockbuster. TRADEMARKED! TM! TRADEMARKED!) But more often than not, you’ll get hired to write a piece on the benefits of flood insurance or an advertisement for a company that installs bleachers. And your first thought will be…

How in the hell am I going to write 300 words about bleachers?

Jones Bleacher Company is a company that makes and installs bleachers.

Ok, sweet, that’s eleven words. Only 289 more and I get paid.

Their bleachers are nice to sit on.

And you realize you’re doomed.

Have I been in this situation before? You bet. In the last month, I’ve written articles and advertisements for a company that installs fake plastic lawns, a local insurance agent, a chandelier cleaning business, two semi-depressing fundraisers, and a company that repairs old garage doors. As you can see, it’s just a big candy circus of exciting content.

So how in the name of all things holy do you make any of those things interesting or upbeat? Here are a few tips.

Create a story around the business or situation. For the piece I wrote for the insurance agent, I spent the entire first paragraph talking about a fictional tornado. It drew people in, hitting them with a real world scenario, thus accomplishing our main goal – getting the reader to reexamine their homeowners policy. As an added bonus, it got me a third of the way though my work without actually having to talk about insurance. Any time you can realistically put something creative into a normally dry article or advertisement, go ahead and do it.

Go historical. There are a million roads you can travel here. Talk about how the product developed, the people behind the company, or even find an interesting tidbit about the area the company serves. I recently wrote an article for a large home improvement center that began by pointing out how all of the “new” homes built in northern Allegheny County the 1980’s are now three decades old. It’s stunning for most people to realize that 1984 was that long ago. This served two purposes. First, it gave people a reason to start thinking that they could probably use the services of the company I was writing for, and two – it got me about a hundred words into the article before I had to start talking about the company’s amazing home improvement deals.

Ask “What separates you from your competitors?” You’d be amazed what this question does for you as a writer. It gives you all kind of stuff to capitalize on.

“Well, uh, our bleachers are consistently rated 45% more comfortable than our competitors. Is that helpful?”

Helpful? That’s a gold mine! How many times has my ass started to hurt halfway through the third quarter because I was sitting on an inferior bleacher? Practically every time I’ve sat in bleacher seating! My god, people need to know about this! What I thought was a boring article is now going to literally save people’s asses!

This is a nice lead in to the final tip.

Find ANYTHING that interests YOU and go with it. If it’s even remotely interesting to you, it’s probably interesting to the rest of the populous as well. “Wow, you make your bleachers out of recycled velvet Elvis paintings?” Just imagine how many toxic old Elvis paintings you’re keeping out of landfills nationwide. Hire Jones Bleacher Company and you’re doing the Earth a favor! Amazing!

Now, obviously most examples aren’t that extreme. But let’s say you’re writing for an AstroTurf company and they tell you that their product makes it much easier to clean up pet waste. You can easily run with that. In my experience, people don’t particularly enjoy cleaning up pet waste. Anything that streamlines the process is something pet owners will want to know more about.

In conclusion, it’d be great if all your projects were fun, fast, and exciting like a Friday night. But as a freelancer, you have to realize that many of the projects that roll in are the equivalent of a Tuesday afternoon. Just remember that boring projects tend to pay more because nobody’s really throwing elbows to get to them. The key to completing these projects without drilling a hole in your skull is to break them down into smaller, more interesting elements. There’s something at least kind of intriguing about everything – even insurance, bleachers, and AstroTurf. But yeah, sometimes you really have to search.

And now onto my next project.

FADE IN:

INT. SPACE TRAIN – NIGHT

CLINT and TARA, slender and athletic college swimmers steal a romantic moment in the shower. They giggle, flirt, and moan until –

A SHADOW blocks out the light from the bathroom.

TARA: Clint, what was that?
CLINT: Don’t worry, baby. Even if it’s an alien, you’re with the toughest guy this side of Gamma Quadrant. Nothing’s gonna happen to you while I’m around.
TARA: Oh Clint, you’re right. Let’s throw caution to the wind and do it right here on this space train!

The shadow creeps closer. It has distinctly alien features. It reaches for something. We don’t know what until we hear….

THE ROAR OF A CHAINSAW.

Yup, that’s a winner right there.

photo credit: szajmon via photopin cc

One Comment

  1. Grandpa Hank, You rightfully left out the method that local media uses when “writing” about boring, inane, or useless events. They just ignore the facts and instead hype themselves about being the first to break a story that no one should ever need to know about. It seems to work however, which is a shame.

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