Dissecting a watermelon

Bienvenue and wilkommen to a new experiment! I find wonderfulnesses on the Internet, dissect ’em, and pull out a handy-dandy lesson.

So first you gotta watch this video. It is short, and entertaining.

Hold on, lemme put some spaces in so you don’t read my notes while waiting for the video to load. Accidental spoilers are made of butt.

La.

La.

Die Hard is possibly still the best action movie of all time.

La!

All done? Let’s dissect!

Look, I could make this dissection about the boldness required to dress up like a watermelon and dance around. I could talk about the wonderful use of metaphor to make a point. ’Cos hell yes, those are great.

But I’d like to point my pointy finger at something else.

Hart opens with this totally rational rebuttal for one point, and then says, “and number two, I love watermelon.” Bam! Jump cut to the watermelon and the dancing. The explanation is delivered AFTERWARDS.

AFTERWARDS.

AS IN: NOT BEFORE.

Firstly, notice the scene is way fucking funnier without context.

Secondly, notice how it keeps your attention better than most gimmicks do. You’re either still wondering, “Okay, but what does this have to do with how she dresses?” or you figured out the logical chain and you’re feeling good about yourself. (So smart!)

The bit I’m slapping myself with:

We have to got to stop over-explaining. We gotta trust our audience to fill in some blanks themselves. To bring in a fancy quote:

Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du Cinéma.​ – Thanks to Ming-Zhu Hii for the link!

But I mean, on the other hand, we don’t want to take out a step that makes it all make sense. This video without the question asked at the beginning would just be… nonsensical, and weird.

Hart has done something brilliant by mixing up the standard order: illustrate, then explain.

Everything vital is left in, but the order of delivery isn’t as obvious. You get the thoroughness AND the surprise.

It’s genius!

Do try this at home.

If your work has a logical sequence, try messing around with it.

Deliver the punchline first. Start with dessert. Let things not make sense for a few minutes, and enjoy the riveted attention you’ll get as people try to figure out where the fuck you’re going with this.

(Or the conspiratorial grins of those who have figured it out already.)

I’ll be trying it, too.

Love and billiard balls,
Catherine

  • Kelly Diels

    ooooooh ooooh ooooooh THIS IS SO DAMNED GOOD.

    I love her. I am going to follow her everywhere.

    And you’re so right, Catherine – I teach this too, about writing blog posts. Most of us try to tell stories using chronology: this happened, then this, then this.

    The reader can totally predict what’s coming and get bored and click away, away, away.

    Instead, take the authorial reins. Mix up the chronology. Start mid-way through your story, then backtrack, then leap forward. Now you can surprise and delight.

    Sally forth now and surprise and delight.

    (Watermelons!)

    • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

      I was thinking about you as I wrote this, actually! I agree with you that messing with chronology is nifty, but oh man is it HARD.

      Maybe approaching it like this will help?

      Watermelons!