1. Velvet Muse
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    Velvet Muse New Member

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    "Suddenly. . ."

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Velvet Muse, Jun 6, 2009.

    I'm just wondering how some writers can have something happen 'suddenly' while not actually writing the word 'suddenly.' I think it [suddenly] kind of interjects and has a not-so-serious feel to it. It's almost a cheesy cliche to me.

    I'm just looking for thoughts and examples.

    Thank you,

    Velvet Muse
     
  2. amble
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    amble Member

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    I don't think 'suddenly' is really needed in most cases except to emphasise the point it happened now. I find it easier to keep a flow, if you put the unexpected result preceding the event.

    There was a loud crash, as the tin can fell to the floor.
    There was a loud crack, as the rope snapped.

    Both of those could just be written as:

    Suddenly the tin can fell to the floor
    Suddenly the rope snapped

    I find putting the reaction in the sentence draws the reader in, and writes it from an 'unknowing' perspective instead of an observatory perspective. For instance, if you were in a room, something would alert you to an event that was going to happen or had happend all of a sudden.

    Ok, I hope that makes sense, I have a headache now :s :)
     
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  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's sufficient to interrupt whatever else is going on. What if nothinh is going on? Well, suddenly implies that there was. Just make the transition:
     
  4. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Velvet, you cannot eradicate suddenly from vernacular prose--just as you cannot expunge was or said or all adverbs. Every word has their usage in the English language. It's when you began to rely on it as know-all, end-it-all terminalogy that it begins lose its favor.

    It's not illegal to use suddenly. Just use them sparingly like a sprinkle of salt. For example, in Cogito's post, suddenly Parker dove, reads alot better, than just Parker diving for no reason.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Although I wrote the above to make a point, I believe my version conveys the suddenness of the action better than using the word Suddenly. The transition is abrupt and takes no time to pause for the unnecessary adverb.

    Superfluous adverbs are a blight anyway, and in my opinion, that one is overused and often unnecessary.

    As in any similar situation, there is no warning. You are thrown into it, and sort out what happens as the moment passes.

    It was a deliberate writing choice.
     
  6. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    I don't know; suddenly reads alot better to me, because something is happening out of the blue, and the readers don't know what it is. The abrupt action is outside of the character's norm, and not hinted at before, therefore suddenly makes perfect sense. You can ask anyone on this board, if you don't believe me.

    If the readers knew there was a shooter outside the restaurant's window, beforehand, I would omit suddenly. But if they never did, and the story started without any kind of a red-herring, I would add suddenly. That's just me.
     
  7. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    I actually preferred Cogito's without the suddenly, if your following the MC and his world is disrupted without anyone shouting "Suddenly!" I think it read perfect and through you into what was happening it wasn't even a second later when you find out that he stopped talking because of a shooter. I don't believe you should completely trash suddenly out of your vocabulary since, a lot of people use it in dialogue since that's how people speak- but in your actually story, suddenly, i believe, doesn't need to be used. It changes from being a novel, book, passage to being a camp fire story
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'Suddenly Parker dove' is very poor writing, imo... and doesn't read well, as a result... in re the good age-old advice to not use adverbs unless it's absolutely unavoidable, i'd put 'suddenly' up at the top of the 'don't ever use' list!

    for instance, to me, 'He attacked, without warning' is much better than 'He attacked suddenly' or its even worse versions, 'Suddenly, he attacked' or He suddenly attacked'...
     
  9. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    I happen to think some words are used purely out of habit. Personally I tend to use words like bit, instead, granted, and nonetheless a lot more than I probably should. Yes, I understand that they're normal words, but so is suddenly. When we finally give up using these crutches we can usually attain a higher quality of writing. You can usually solve all of this, mind you, by going back and just editing your story. I cannot tell you how many however's and nonetheless's that I've replaced with real sentences.

    Using the word suddenly is nothing to be ashamed of, it just means you're using a crutch when it comes to writing. I think the story will come out just fine, but there will be some readers who will toss the book down and stiffly cry, "HA! I knew it, this man is a hack! A HACK!"

    I tend not to care as much, so long as the story is entertaining.
     
  10. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    ... or maybe something like ...

    The tin can fell to the floor. The pair froze, mid-sentence, at the sharp sound of metal striking granite tile.

    The moment the rope snapped, all she was aware of was the sound of its crack. Then came the terror of knowing.

    ... or something more imaginative than that, which might build a visual experience somehow relevant to the particular story, so the reader understands the suddenness of the event without requiring explanation.
     
  11. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Again, Mammamaia and Juliet, you are critquing from a writer's point of view; while I am critiquing from a reader's point of view.

    Suddenly works betters for me because the unusual circumstance is happening outside of the main characters interaction, without prior knowledge, out of nowhere, out of the blues, for no reason. It fits. It reads more smoothly to me. Of course, there are better ways to convey action scenes without the word suddenly, but I'm just reminding the novice writers that using suddenly is not a sin, and should not be view as cheesy.

    I speak first hand as a reader, first, and not as a writer.
     
  12. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    I'd put the top of the 'don't ever use' list as "THERE WAS."

    Never begin a sentence with There was... unless you are revealing objects in a location.

    Christ, that's horrible. There was a loud crack. There was anger in his voice. Most awful sentences in the world begins with "there was."
     
  13. amble
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    amble Member

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    Come on, don't be stupid. It was used to illustrate a point not to begin every sentence with 'there was...'
     
  14. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess it's possible to eliminate adverbs lie suddenly during the rewrite process but more often than not, I think if you seriously attempt to avoid writing it in the initial draft, you'll be fiercely acting out one of those "suddenly" scene with a computer and the nearest window. ;)
     
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  15. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    You can often change the adverb to an adjective, which can sometimes be more visual than the adverb, I think. e.g., "There was a sudden crack [or whatever sound] and the [whatever] fell to the ground." or "A sudden crash in the kitchen startled [whoever] and interrupted his comment, mid-sentence."
     
  16. sorites
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    sorites Senior Member

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    How about this:

    This series of events communicates a rapid pace with words like "just then," "the next moment" and "suddenly." Also, verbs like "lashing," "flung," "butted," and "kicked" help give the reader a sense of moving action.
     
  17. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Reaper posted a question almost exactly like this one last week.

    I rarely use the word suddenly, though there are times it could fit like:

    He suddenly appeared in front of me.

    It could also be:

    His sudden appearance startled me.

    Or something like this:

    The car stopped suddenly with a jerk, sending me forward against my seat belt.

    (Although in the above sentence 'suddenly' could be removed and it would work just fine like:

    The car stopped with a jerk, sending me forward against my seat belt.

    There are times and places where the word suddenly can be used. But, there is one place I never use it and that is at the beginning of a sentence.

    Suddenly she saw the bright purple gem sticking out of the ground.

    I would expand something like that to:

    She dropped to her knees in excitement, as she clawed at the ground desperately trying to free the purple gem from the dirt.

    During a first draft I try not to worry too much how I am wording something. That is what re-writing and editing is for. So, when I go back through it and I find things that don't work, I change them.

    I don't know. I guess it's one of those things I just don't worry about until I have to worry about it.
     
  18. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Again, suddenly works better for Cogito's example, because, as a reader, when there's suddenly in the equation, it reads as if the main protagonist is diving for a reason. Without the suddenly, it reads as if he is diving for no reason which breaks the suspension of disbelief, even if the very next words reveals why he dove. Again, I speak as a reader, and not as a writer. If characters suddenly do irrational things for no reason, I'm the type of person to close the book and throw it aside, because I don't give second chances. Break my suspension of disbelief, and you're done.
     
  19. littlebluelie
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    littlebluelie Member

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    The "--" at the end means the character was interrupted by a sudden action. Wouldn't putting a "suddenly" in there be redundant? Obviously it was sudden if the person was interrupted...
     
  20. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    A sudden action or a sudden noise? He was interrupted by a sudden noise, right? Which caused him to dive for his companion, right?

    Then there should at least be a reference to the windows exploding, before him diving for his spouse. Only then, can I omit suddenly. For example:
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Eyez, you have already stated your opinion. I do see your point, I just don't agree. The point here is to offer alternatives, not for someone to win.

    I could have preceded the dive to the floor (with someone who is clearly NOT his spouse!) with the exploding window, or with a glimpse of a car rolling past. That isn't the point here, which is that there is no need of an adverb or other qualifier to indicate that something happened suddenly. The abrupt interruption of the conversation suffices. I went for the dive first, before hearing the gunshots or the window exploding, because Parker reacted to something to be explained later, and got them both out of the line of fire in time. My purpose was to simulate that "What the hell is happening?" essence of the scene, and piece it together over the next few sentences, revealing what it was that he reacted to. Chances are, he didn't think about it consciously until after he reacted, after he took stock of their condition.

    I think that is a valid approach. I also agree that Suddenly would also work, but that it would be a different effect.
     

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