1. Keyvee
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    Keyvee Member

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    Using the word "Suddenly"

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Keyvee, Oct 13, 2011.

    I spoke to some writers on linked and some of them said that a typical mistake for writers is using the word "suddenly" in narration.

    Ex: Jack grabbed some piece of meat and ate it. Suddenly, someone entered the room.

    I don't agree with them. What is your opinion?
     
  2. Sackninja
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    Sackninja Member

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    I use the word Suddenly on occasion. I find if you only use words rarely then it's fine. If every sentence begins with the word then it will get annoying. I defiantly wouldn't say it's a mistake to use the word but to use it too often is one.
    Just my opinion though.
     
  3. Steve89
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    Steve89 Member

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    I agree with Sackninja. Use it sparingly and there won't be a problem. I think the key with things like this is to try not to draw attention to it. The last thing a writer wants it for the reader to picl up on when they are using a word too much.
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree, there certainly is a use for the word, but make sure not to abuse it :D it's the same thing with exclamation marks, they should be saved for special occasions, ;) because many publishers dislike reading a ms full of "!!!"s.
     
  5. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    Suddenly is an adverb, and most people advise using them only sparingly, as too much can lead to cheapening description and generally degrades the quality of writing. Overuse of words like suddenly sticks out to experienced writers like disproportionately drawn bodies to practised artists.
     
  6. colinbeckett
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    colinbeckett Member

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    I think the problem some people have with suddenly is that it can become a go-to word to link events together when the author has to move between unrelated things, as in the example. What you have to ask yourself is whether the manner in which "someone" entered the room was actually sudden, which suggests that they were not expected and could not be heard/seen coming, or if they just walked in normally. It may suffice to say "Someone entered the room."
     
  7. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    The word isn't a problem because it's an adverb (though that doesn't help its case). The problem with "suddenly" is it works against itself. If something is sudden, padding it with "suddenly" slows the action down so it's not so sudden. Don't introduce it. Here's an exaggeration to prove the point:

    You're settilng the reader in by adding extraneous words. If the action is happening suddenly, it doesn't seem that way by leading into it. Your classic show-versus-tell case, and there are better tools to show the door flying open than to use "suddenly." For instance:

    I'd never use the word, at least in narration. You could say an occasional use is okay, but the reader won't feel the suddenness.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that "suddenly" is often used as a transition word when the writer doesn't know how to make the transition between two events. Because it's used that way, it tends to have no meaning, and meaningless words, IMO, should be cut.

    Looking at the example:

    Jack grabbed some piece of meat and ate it. Suddenly, someone entered the room.

    What was sudden about the person entering the room? What made that entrance different from any other time when a person enters a room? Was it faster? Was it louder? Do people usually knock and wait before entering that room? Do they usually announce themselves and wait ten seconds and open the door veeeeery slowly? What's the usual state that's being violated so that the word "suddenly" is appropriate?

    Just saying "suddenly" doesn't tell us any of that, so even if the writer means something with that word, the reader doesn't get a meaning, so it, again, ends up being a meaningless word.

    ChickenFreak
     
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  9. Gracia Bee
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    Gracia Bee Member

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    I think I overuse "suddenly". It is okay on occasions though. Most writers use it as the "easy way out" because they can jump from scene to scene. Sometimes it flows sometimes it doesn't. Its how you work it.
     
  10. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I'm curious: what reasons did these writers give you for not liking the word?
     

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