1. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    Suddenly?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Crystal Parney, Aug 21, 2012.

    I read in an article to never use the word 'suddenly'. I try not to use it too much in my writing, yet I don't rule it completely. I am curious to what other writers think, and in what way do try not you use the word 'suddenly'?

    Crystal
     
  2. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I think economy of words is always best, but just like adverbs, sometimes some words are necessary for the feeling being conveyed. It's one thing to have 'suddenly' address the reader at every climactic moment, small or large, but it's another when something truly happens quickly, and abruptly.
     
  3. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Adverbs are like salt in a dish, a little bit makes it taste good, while too much ruins it. Same principle. I don't agree with King that you should avoid them at all costs either.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Never use it? No. But if you're using it more than, oh, two or three times in an entire book, I'd suggest that that may be over-use.
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be
    There's a shadow hanging over me
    Oh yesterday came suddenly.

    Yesterday by Paul McCartney

    Sounds good to me.
     
  6. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Double post
     
  7. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I just don't think it's the most useful word, as suddenness would usually be implied - if someone jumps at a crack of thunder you can gather that it was sudden rather than a gradual thing. I'm sure it has its place though, and if you're writing a song it certainly helps with rhyming :)
     
  8. epicfailpig
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    epicfailpig Member

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    I don't see why you couldn't use the word suddenly a couple of times for aesthetic or flow purposes. If you're using it to actually describe something that happened suddenly, however, I'd suggest that you stay away from it. Suddenly is more or less a 'telling' word, and if you're trying to 'show' a scene, then you'd want to stay clear of it.
     
  9. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Still comes a time when you'd use the word to tell, since all novels are a mix of the two.
     
  10. Tom Fletch
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    Tom Fletch Member

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    I had to explain this to my girlfriend a few days ago (truth be told she didn't care that much, but she wanted to learn something new.) and prettyprettyprettygood hit it on the nail.

    "He suddenly jumped up." reads okay, but have you ever tried to slowly jump up?
    "Suddenly, the room was filled with light." Light is already pretty quick, suddenly kind of slows it down abit.

    I try not to have it in my writing, but when i do, i read it with and without so i can be sure it's needed.

    so far, it hasnt been
     
  11. epicfailpig
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    epicfailpig Member

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    Well, yeah. If you were trying to 'tell' something, you would be free to use the word suddenly. On the other hand, if you were trying to 'show' something, you wouldn't use it.

    Personally, I kinda agree with prettygood in that you could always imply that something happened quickly without stating that it did. 'Course, if you really, really, really needed to say that something happened suddenly, you could, but for the most part, implying it would be easier.
     
  12. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Still falls into the fact that all novels are a mix, which means you will use the word sometimes. I use it, sparingly, but I use it. So do the masters...
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Suddenly," like nearly all words, can be used in different ways. It may not be desirable or effective in one way, but fine in another. For example"

    1. Suddenly, a huge wave crashed onto the deck of the boat and washed little Freddy over the side. (Questionable usage.)

    2. "Why didn't you save little Freddy?" the coast guard officer asked.
    "Well, the wave hit suddenly, and the kid was gone before any of us could get to him." (Justifiable usage.)

    I don't think you can place a total ban on "suddenly" or any other word. There are places in good prose for them.
     
  14. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Suddenly" is a word that tells the reader that something is about to happen and, consequently, runs the risk of lessening the impact of the words that follow it. If you want to get the strongest possible reaction from the reader then don't use it.

    I avoid the word "suddenly" in description but I've used it on occasion in dialogue.
     
  15. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    These are all great responses, thanks everyone.
     
  16. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    In action description, it is apt to fall on the banal side, but geared well into a meditation or dialogue, it can be the right fit; though, as with all things, moderation is prudent.
     
  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I tend to be wary of so-called writing rules that begin with "always" or "never". Very little in writing is that absolute.
     
  18. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    I agree with this.

    I have read plenty of great novels that had more than a small amount of adverbs, and I enjoyed reading them.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I won't say never, but I would avoid it on general principles. First, it's an adverb that is rarely necessary or clarifying. Additionally, it's a three-syllable delay to tell the reader that something occurred without warning.

    I prefer to handle a sudden occurrence by interrupting what was previously taking place, and diving right into it.

    It may sometimes be expedient to just go with suddenly. But it will always raise a red flag for me, and will at least warrant examination for a better way to express it.
     
  20. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    It has its place, but In my opinion, and experience :redface:, it ends up sounding kinda lazy to just write suddenly every few paragraphs. Once in a while, it does work, but there are better ways to describe things happeni...

    He suddenly realized he was a total hypocrite and left... suddenly
     
  21. Ben_
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    Ben_ Member

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    I often find myself cringing when I read a sentence like “suddenly, such and such happened,” so I try and avoid it. IMO there are more interesting or effective ways of communicating the same sense of surprise, or suddenness or whatever it is.

    Sometimes people seem to use it in inappropriate places, where it doesn’t add any real meaning; it can become a kind of affectation.
     
  22. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I use suddenly occasionally. Sometimes it can't be helped. But
    it's like any word that can interrupt your action. You really need
    to weigh the pros and cons on whether or not it clarifies
    the image or undermines it.

    Suddenly, a screaming came across the sky
    or
    A screaming came across the sky - Gravity's Rainbow.
     

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