1. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Is it superfluous?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by blackstar21595, May 19, 2013.

    I'm debating between these two sentences.

    1. He shot an arrow.

    2. He drew his bow and shot an arrow.

    Do you think 'He drew his bow' is needed or can it be omitted if a bow is implied by the context of 'shot an arrow'?
     
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  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I think it can be omitted, unless there's a reason you want to put emphasis on the fact he drew his bow...and also, I think by adding that extra bit makes it seem like a 'calm' scene? So, it's a action scene, I would suggest leaving it out.

    My 2 pence...hope that helped.
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you shoot a bullet? Or do you shoot a gun?

    To shoot an arrow would be to suggest the arrow was the target and he hit it. He would shoot a deer for example with the arrow - he wouldn't actually shoot the arrow.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Depends. If you elaborated a bit ... "took careful aim", "drew instinctually", "pulled the bowstring, then hesitated" ... then I'd say keep it.

    If the action is quick, or there's something else you are emphasizing with the sentence, then I'd say, not needed.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's a bit of a missed analogy here, IMO. You don't have to say, he pulled the trigger and shot the gun. That would be a tad more analogous.

    Surely you've heard Longfellow's poem?
     
  6. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    It feels different for bows though, since that would mean that if I can say "He shot the gun." then I could say "He shot the bow." And I don't feel the latter makes any sense.
     
  7. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Well I think this solved my question a little, since I imagined him shooting the arrow from a bow.
     
  8. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    #1 is better.
     
  9. muscle979
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    muscle979 Member

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    You could say that he loosed an arrow if shot doesn't quite seem right.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The arrow implies the bow, and the bow implies the arrow, and for that matter "shot" implies both, if it's already been established that the character has a bow. I think that if you have one, you don't _need_ the other, though that doesn't necessarily mean that the other should be eliminated.

    So

    He drew his bow and shot an arrow, hitting the squirrel.

    could quite reasonably be replaced with:

    He shot the squirrel.

    or

    He drew his bow and shot an arrow into the air.

    with

    He shot an arrow into the air.


    In general, I'd say that the briefer version is better, unless there's a good reason for the longer one.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it depends on the situation, and the experience and skill of the archer. If he's merely a boy in his first battle, you may want to say something like, "He drew his bow, struggling against his fear to remember the lessons his father had taught him ..."

    On the other hand, if he's an experienced hunter or warrior, "he shot an arrow" may be sufficient.

    Who is your character? What is the situation? Those should dictate how you phrase the sentence.
     
  12. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    An experienced hunter.
     
  13. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I'd go with #1. If your showing him fire an arrow for the first time, or if there's no other reference to his bow before hand, then #2.
     
  14. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd agree - whether to include it depends a lot on the pace of the scene, as well as what preceded the action. Was he hesitant, trying to decide whether to shoot at all? Then it would work, showing his decision - and could make it abrupt or deliberate.

    Sometimes short and concise works; other times, you lose something you really don't want to.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    one might also question whether he was drawing a picture of a bow... ;)

    seriously, 'drew a bow' and 'shot an arrow' are both common terms in the field of archery, so are ok to use...

    however, i have to agree with the poster who said 'drew his bow' isn't necessary unless one needs to add 'calmly' or 'with great effort' or some other indication of how he went about it...
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The main reason I might choose to include both drawing the bow and letting fly the arrow would be to emphasize that it takes more coordinated actions than swinging a sword or axe or firing an automatic weapon.
     
  17. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Agreed.

    I like the imagery of "he drew the bow" more than "he shot the arrow". It gives a better mental image, imo. I can picture him taking aim and drawing it back and the care it would take.

    haha

    This is what I was thinking as well.


    Either one is alright in my book. I just prefer the other because it gives a clearer picture to me.
     
  18. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    This is exactly what I was thinking. :) Omitting information like that can, to me, really damage the imagery I create in my head while I'm reading. When did the bow get pulled out? What other scenes will need to be adjusted in my head because this person's been running around with a ready bow for the last... who knows how long?

    The "calm" bit that Youniquee brought up reminded me of something I'd like to mention. I learned an interesting trick for manipulating perceived pacing through sentence length from Hemingway. The shorter the sentence is, the quicker it goes by and the faster the action seems. The longer the sentence, the longer the action seems to take. So the situation in which this thing is occurring, I think, will determine how much can get packed into this sentence. However, the question still remains because your hunter can ready his bow and sight his target in another (or multiple other) sentences prior to shooting. Examples:

    The hunter crouched low behind the oak. His eyes never left the buck. Lifting his bow, he nocked his last arrow. This was it. His last chance. He sighted the beast down the perfectly straight, perfectly smooth length of the arrow. Exhaling, he let go.

    Didn't intend to mix those but it still demonstrates what I'm going for I think. :)
     
  19. DungeonBrain
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    DungeonBrain Banned

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    I think we need more surrounding sentences before saying for sure. Was the character just doing something previously that occupied his hands? That could make for an awkward transition if the drawing action isn't communicated.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good point!
     
  21. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    #2 adds familiar imagery to the shot, that slow draw of the bow and taking of aim--this is the way to go for me unless he is on horseback riding through a pack of rabid zombies, picking them off one after another, spending little time to aim because his he is just trying to hold them off long enough to escape.

    I don't know where that came from it's early here and I should be working.
     
  22. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    --double post--
     
  23. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    Option 1 He shot an arrow-sounds like you will focus more on the effect of the arrow being shot or the event of the arrow shooting is just a filler on the way to something else
    option 2 suggests more drama and a possible horrible or at very least bad outcome should the shot be missed. however, the way that you have it worded, while not totally confusing, may need some clarification in my opinion. when you "draw" a bow, you are actually talking about three different definitions
    1 pulling the bow from wherever it is stored, usually from the shoulder or under the arm, the back is actually not conducive to making quick shots.
    2 drawing of the string to make a shot.-this has assumed the arrow (or bolt in a crossbow case) has already been "notched" or "knocked" in some archery circles.
    3 when stringing a simple or recurve bow (non-compound) the upper and lower bought must be "drawn" - technically this could work in your sentence depending on how much you assume your reader knows about archery. I know that this is not what you are talking about, but I think it could stand some clarification. as option one and two are closely related.
     
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