Take the 2-minute tour ×
Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This question already has an answer here:

Unless the answer is never, when is it excusable to use those two? I think someone told me it was a sin for a writer to use them.

I wonder this because one of my favorite writer used it in one of his books:

All of a sudden she pulls her hands away from her chin and places them on her lap. Two small pale knees show at her hemline.

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Standback Nov 14 '13 at 19:54

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

3  
It's not a sin to use either, but they can be crutches. Treat them as clichés: don't overuse either, and if you are editing your work and you find one, take a moment to consider if there's a fresher way to describe what's going on. –  Lauren Ipsum Nov 13 '13 at 18:48
1  
Suddenly, Daddy shows up -- with a gun! –  dmm Nov 13 '13 at 21:25
1  
All of a sudden, Jamie's got a gun! –  Lauren Ipsum Nov 13 '13 at 22:25

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

When it is sudden: unexpected and fast. Just moving hands from chin to knees wouldn't be too sudden unless she practically slapped her knees. Don't just indicate an action that happened "sourcelessly" from inactive environment. Indicate a fast, rapid and unexpected action. "Suddenly she drew a gun and put it to his head."

"All of sudden" is more of a spoken expression. You can have the characters use it in dialogue. For actual narration, "suddenly" is preferred.

EDIT: Following Lauren's comment. It's not forbidden, it's not a sin, it's just a common crutch, and easy to abuse, cheap. If you're about to use it, think if there's a better way to say it. Not always, but quite often, there is. Also, remember: It's an adverb.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.