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.

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    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. Nov 13, 2013 at 18:48
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    Suddenly, Daddy shows up -- with a gun!
    – dmm
    Nov 13, 2013 at 21:25
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    All of a sudden, Jamie's got a gun! Nov 13, 2013 at 22:25

1 Answer 1


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.

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