Making actions clear

Reply Mon 19 Sep, 2022 01:18 am
Hi again.
This time I am trying to decide if it is clear in the sentence below, who is being affected by which action, or if it needs to be re-worded.

'The witch struck, snatching Bob from Frank's shoulders whilst binding him.'

The witch should be snatching Bob from Frank, while binding Frank. But I am not sure it reads that way.

Advice greatly appreciated.

All the best.
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Reply Mon 19 Sep, 2022 09:52 am
How does Bob manage to snatch Frank and bind him at the same time?
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Reply Mon 19 Sep, 2022 12:10 pm
The witch struck, binding Frank while snatching Bob from his shoulders.
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Reply Mon 19 Sep, 2022 12:55 pm
Two or more sentences may be best.

The witch struck. While binding Frank, at the same time, she snatched Bob away.

But the confusion isn't just in the sentence structure. It's also in the sense of the wording itself.

Can you bind and snatch simultaneously? I would put it to you that these are rather different actions, and probably can't happen at the same time unless either the witch is fast and ambidextrous, or has four arms. If magic is the reason, then it's kind of a hand wave here.

I think a reader would find it confusing, too, because your reader probably doesn't know where the put their focus. Which is more important: putting Frank out of commission, or grabbing Bob?

The witch has to buy some time, because she (I am using this pronoun but if another is more accurate then of course by all means use it) has to:
  • Strike
  • Produce ropes or handcuffs or whatever to bind Frank
  • Then bind Frank and
  • Pull Bob from Frank
I doubt Bob or Frank are going willingly.

So, the witch needs to buy some time, even if it's just a few seconds. What if she collides with Frank, causing Frank to lose his grip on Bob. The witch, thinking quickly, tosses Bob in the air. As Bob is falling, the witch binds Frank. Bob falls into her waiting arms and she spirits him away.

Or, in the alternative, she can hit Frank with her broomstick or another heavy object, thereby causing Frank to pass out. She grabs hold of Bob and, with her free hand, binds Frank. Then she escapes, with Bob as her hostage.

I realize these are both wordier but I think they make more sense logistically. There's suspension of disbelief, and then there's hand waving. Once the former crosses over to the latter, it is very, very hard to get it back.
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Reply Mon 19 Sep, 2022 03:16 pm
Yeah, I meant the witch, not Bob. It just seems to be a convoluted action, trying to picture.

As Jespah alluded to, figure out which action is more important. You don't say what he's bound with, either, which is important in your readers being able to visualize it. And how long did this take? Sounds like it was immediate.
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Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2022 08:45 am
Hi All, many thanks for the replies, very much appreciated, and got me thinking more about the wording. I guess I missed out a couple of important elements in my opening post.

The witch does indeed magically bind Frank, preventing him from performing any actions, Bob is already severely wounded / incapacitated hence the reason Frank is carrying him. And the action does need to be almost instant, as the witch is about to be under attack from another source.

A couple of other things that may be of note:

The Witch, is clearly the baddie Smile
Frank is heroic, but only a secondary character.
Bob is the main protagonist of the whole story.

Once again, I really appreciate the help and advice.

All the best.
Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2022 09:08 am
Hmm can the witch do the binding with a spoken spell? I can see the idea of something like --

As she grabbed Bob, the witch bellowed, "By the moons of Jupiter, I bind thee, Frank of Canarsie!"
Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2022 11:49 am
I think we might have a winner Smile Thanks again, I will work with that idea. Might even come back and let you know what I go with Smile
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Reply Sat 24 Sep, 2022 04:37 am
So I ended up with this.
'Bella struck, snatching Bob from Frank’s shoulder.
“Mor`eth bin,” she screeched, as she bound Frank, her gnarled fingers snipping at his neck.
Frank dropped his shield and caved to his knees grasping at his throat. Bella had never been one to just kill.'
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