Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hilarious Essay

In the past two years I've been on almost 20 flights. So I found this essay particularly side-splitting:

A User’s Manual to Seat 21C
By Wayne Curtis
CONGRATULATIONS ON SELECTING SEAT 21C! This manual is intended to familiarize you with the many options available to you.

If you've flown at all, you'll recognize yourself and your fellow travellers.

Note to writers: Analyze this essay. Do you see how it was all tell and no show? Isn't that breaking all the rules? Yes, but it's still so effective because he is pulling out every tiny detail and magnifying it, showing the absurd in the ordinary.


Linda Sherwood said...

I don't see how this is all tell and no show. I think it is a pretty good example of showing. It may be that you and I have a different idea of showing and telling.

To me, a writer does a good job of showing if you can create a world for the reader. I think this author plops you right into the airplane's seat and makes you aware of everything around you using more than once sense (hearing and seeing and even touching).

To me, telling would be: The airplane was crowded.

Compared to showing: I could see four different people pressed up against my body and felt even more as all 20 passengers jostled each other in our rush out of the tiny flaming airplane.

Showing eliminates possibilities and makes the author's intentions very clear to the reader.

Linda Sherwood said...

You know what? I've been thinking of this, and I think I see what you were saying now. He is telling because he is writing like a manual, but there is detail in the telling. It shows too. Very talented. And now I don't have to stay up at night thinking about this anymore. ;-)