Two Basic Ways To Make “Boring” Genres Interesting

2015 Artwork How To Make Boring Genres interesting

Even though this is an article about writing fiction and making comics, I’m going to be talking about TV shows and about myself quite a bit.

This is mainly because some of the best examples of “boring” genre being turned into something more interesting tend to happen in TV shows. Not only that, the best examples I have about how “boring” genres and subjects can become interesting come from my own experiences of this happening to me.

For example, I’d always thought that medieval fantasy was a rather boring and nerdy genre. Since I’m from southern England, I got my fill of castles, knights etc… from history books, stories and museums when I was a kid and, as such, I just kind of saw medieval fantasy as something dull that people even nerdier than myself liked.

Then, in late 2013 and early 2014, I was introduced to both “Game Of Thrones” and G.R.R. Martin’s “Song Of Ice And Fire” books – needless to say, I was soon absolutely fascinated by medieval fantasy. The genre had gone from being something boring, to being something that was kind of cool.

So, how do you turn “dull” subjects and genres into interesting things to write stories or make comics about?

1) Sub-plots: This is probably a fairly obvious thing but, if possible, relegate the “boring” parts of your story to a sub-plot for at least the earlier parts of your story or comic.

To use another example from my own life – when I was slightly younger, I wasn’t really interested in the political drama genre. I considered it to be dreary, dull and interminably boring. Now, of course, I’m absolutely fascinated by an old TV show about American politics called “The West Wing”.

So, how did this happen? Simple, I’d seen and read so many political drama-based sub-plots in various things in the sci-fi, fantasy and thriller genres.

For example, political and military machinations are the basis for several sub-plots in G.R.R. Martin’s “Song Of Ice And Fire” books. Likewise, the thriller genre – whether it’s a TV show like “24” or the occasional thriller novel – often contains all sorts of political drama-based sub-plots. Plus, sci-fi TV shows like “Bablyon 5”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Battlestar Galactica” often include politics-based storylines.

Since this “boring” political drama is initially presented something to break up the epic battles, the fascinating space exploration or the thrilling main plot, you know that there’s always going to be more interesting stuff afterwards.

So, the main plot of the story helps to maintain the audience’s interest in the “boring” sub-plot. Because the main plot and the sub-plot are often connected to each other, the sub-plot becomes more interesting as the main plot progresses. After a while, you’ll tend to associate these types of “boring” sub-plots with more interesting stories and they’ll be more interesting to you by virtue of association.

Eventually, you’ll start to see these “boring” things as “interesting” things, because you’ve been gently introduced to them by sub-plots that have been attached to stories that you find more interesting. So, if you want to tell an interesting story about a “boring” subject, then introduce the “boring” parts as a sub-plot, rather than the main plot.

2) Genre Blending: To go back to “Game Of Thrones” and “A Song Of Ice And Fire” again, one of the reasons why they fascinated me – despite the fact that I could only get about two hundred pages into “The Lord Of The Rings” before I lost interest (depite the fact that I liked the movies) – was because both of these things contained stuff that you usually didn’t see in “traditional” medieval fantasy stories.

In fact, in a way, it was closer to the ultra-gory splatterpunk horror novels that I loved when I was a teenager. It isn’t a big spoiler, but both the first book and the first episode of “Game Of Thrones” start off with a group of Night’s Watch guards being attacked by ice zombies in a realistically gruesome fashion. Yes, zombies. In the first few minutes.

In addition to this, unlike “traditional” fantasy, “Game Of Thrones” wasn’t coy about showing characters sleeping with each other, using timeless Anglo-Saxon words and totally ignoring the rules of chivalry and honour. In many ways, it was a lot closer to the horror genre, the erotica genre and the thriller genre than “traditional” medieval fantasy.

To use another example, although I had no interest in reading fantasy novels when I was an older teenager, I eagerly read Frank Herbert’s “Dune” books. Although these are technically sci-fi novels (and I’ve always been more of a sci-fi fan than a fantasy fan), they include a lot of vaguely fantasy-like plot elements.

There are noble houses, there are “chosen one” characters and there isn’t a single computer in sight. But, because “Dune” was set on other planets rather than in old castles, a lot of the “fantasy” stuff just went completely over my head.

So, if you want to write stories or comics in a genre that many people consider “boring” or about a subject that many people consider to be “boring”, then be sure to include elements of another genre in your story or comic too.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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