January 25, 2020, 07:52:25 AM

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Re: Merits of "Suddenly" I'm with Jmack and D_Bates on this one. When I see "suddenly," it often marks a mismatch in pacing and voice.

Voicewise, it rarely has point of view---count how many times a day you or anyone you know (or even your characters in their dialogue) says "suddenly," internally or otherwise. So it usually comes from the narrator's point of view. In some stories (a lot of Golden Age SFF, for example), the narrator's point of view is there and real and consistent, and "suddenly" makes sense, but even then it feels a little archaic to me.

Pacing-wise, I often find that it marks a point at which summary is being employed to describe what should be scene. Take the car exploding. If the car exploding is important, why isn't it given some page space? (If it's not, why is it there?) I've never been around a suddenly exploding car, but I have experienced unexpected (small) explosions (thanks, dumb friends when I was younger). And I doubt an unexpected car explosion is experienced as "Suddenly, a car exploded" or even "Suddenly a car exploded" so much as it's a flash of light, a burst of heat, a shockwave in the chest and a burst eardrum and a terrible ringing and the feeling that the world has shifted and will never be quite the same again. And then, as one picks oneself up and realizes that all one's pieces are still attached, one spots a burning car and one's smacked-around brain puts two and two together and realizes that a car has exploded.

...or maybe in your dystopian world, "a car exploded" is so common it's yawnworthy, but I still think in that case "suddenly" doesn't fit as well as a yawn and a shrug.

On the other hand, I can see the word working under certain circumstances. When I wrote that run-on list of impressions, I originally had "the feeling that the world has suddenly shifted and will never be quite the same..." and it didn't feel terribly out of place to me (probably because Alec Guinness and Star Wars, and also rhythm and alliteration), though I cut it before posting because, well, let's not undermine our own point too badly, eh? ;-)

In general, I think if somebody mentions your "suddenly"s when they're giving you feedback, you should probably listen to them. It's only if readers don't notice them that they're working.

June 23, 2015, 08:47:24 PM
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