Friday, May 21, 2010

"Suddenly" never happens

One of my major pet peeves is the use of "suddenly" in fiction. I consider it the immediate hallmark of lazy writing. The word is its own oxymoron, and its mere use actually delays the suddenness of whatever action was supposed to suddenly happen.

To wit:
"Suddenly the kettle whistled."
Oh, really? It actually whistled about half a second later than it would have if you had merely written "The kettle whistled." By inserting that unnecessary word, you've caused some poor chap to go without tea.

What's even more horrid is adding it after the event in question. "She fired the gun suddenly."

Now, I have let "suddenly" go once in a while, but I can't think of any use where it adds suspense, builds plot, furthers character, supports theme, or do anything but add to a lazy writer's word count.
"The sky was clear. SUDDENLY it rained!"
"The vampire lurked in the shadows. SUDDENLY it jumped out and bit her neck!"
"The writer had a block. SUDDENLY she typed a word."

I hate -ly adverbs, too, but don't get me started. What's your literary pet peeve? What's your defense of "suddenly"?


A writing experience is posted at Straight From Hel

No comments:

Post a Comment