Tips For Better Fiction Writing: SUDDENLY

Don’t write the word “suddenly.”

Write in such a way that it reads as happening suddenly.

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I’m not saying you can’t ever use that word. You can. But usually

the word “suddenly” is a signal to yourself that you want a dramatic event that surprises the reader – and you didn’t write it

You didn’t set it up, you didn’t emphasize it in punctuation and style, you didn’t add a character reaction physically and emotionally to sell it…

You just wrote “suddenly.”

You told the reader they were supposed to be surprised at what happened, instead of doing your best to have them actually be surprised by showing them.

Be better than that.

When you write suddenly in your first draft, add it as a crutch word at the top of your manuscript and go back later and flesh out that scene.


No suddenly’s.

Don’t say something happened suddenly.

Write in such a way that it reads as happening suddenly.

(And have a character react as though they are surprised by what happened, too.)


Write so the reader is surprised – which makes it sudden to the reader. That’s what you want anyway.

I did not see that coming. Neither did she, apparently.

WRITE like the goat.

Let the READER be the young lady.

Wild Bill smiled, raking the chips across the green felt table. “Gosh, Mike, I’m not sure I wanna play poker anymore—now that I have all your money.”

Suddenly, Mike stood and punched Bill, sending him reeling. Chips flew everywhere.


Wild Bill chuckled, raking the chips across the green felt table. “Gosh, Mike, now that I have all your money, I’m not sure I wanna play poker with you any—”

Mike leaped from his chair and swung hard at Bill, landing a punch squarely on Bill’s chin and snapping his head around. Poker chips flew everywhere as the old man sailed backwards and crashed onto the floor.

You can argue that the second one isn’t really surprising, but you already knew what was coming because you read the first one. Either way, it’s more sudden and quick and unexpected to the reader than the first one.

A is for Action 12 FINALYou can do this stuff.

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And the less your reader expects it, the more surprised they’ll be – and the more sudden your scene will read. So set it up that way. Let readers think one thing and do the other without warning. Don’t announce it with “suddenly.”

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Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

4 thoughts on “Tips For Better Fiction Writing: SUDDENLY

  1. Truth. I don’t use the word much. Better without. I don’t have a huge problem with it when used sparingly. Although… *Suddenly* I’m rememering a book I read that had “suddenly” or “all of a sudden” every 3-4 pages. Holy crap. No.

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