It is suddenly time to pay attention to one of the most overused and abused adverbs in all of fiction and narrative nonfiction. SUDDENLY is way too frequently used, out of context, to manufacture drama.
Save suddenly for critical situations where (sudden) time can make the difference between winning or losing – life or death. Or when speed is of the essence to accomplish something.
Note: the same applies to “quickly” and “immediately” – use them sparingly as well.
INCORRECT: He suddenly decided to get out of bed.
JUST SAY: He got out of bed.
INCORRECT: It was suddenly time to leave for work.
JUST SAY: It was time to leave for work.
MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE INCORRECT: The clock suddenly struck 1:00!
DUH! The clock strikes 1:00 twice a day every day. How is this a dramatic event?
CORRECT: He wasn’t paying attention and the gun suddenly went off in his hand.
WHY: True drama; the writer isn’t trying to make blasé prose artificially exciting.
CORRECT: She had just stepped into the crosswalk when a car suddenly appeared in her peripheral vision.
WHY: Life and death at stake here.
And of course, you get a free pass if you cleverly use it for special effect; as in one of my favorite play/movie titles: Suddenly, Last Summer.