I cringed when I saw this morning’s word prompt, “Suddenly.” This is a word with which I struggle almost every time I write a bit of fiction. My short stories tend to have abrupt changes in action, especially after several slow paragraphs of explanatory material. For example, “Suddenly, the door flung open and jarred her from her thoughts.” I spend a lot of time agonizing over this one little word.
Like the word “very “, “suddenly” for me has become overused and boring. I have tried using a thesaurus to find alternative words, but most of the time these alternative words are just as overused: “quickly” “abruptly”. Or they don’t suitably or precisely convey the action or the flavor of the piece. For example another word for “suddenly ” is the word “forthwith”. This would be fine if I were Will Shakespeare. “Forthwith, he dreweth his blade and ventured yonder.”
This is an extreme example, but I hope you get that my point is in not relying too heavily on the thesaurus for your word choice. It doesn’t always work well.
So what is the alternative to using a thesaurus?
Reading. Yes, it is not an immediate fix, but in the long run, nothing replaces reading as the best way to build a writer’s vocabulary.
For every paragraph you write, read a novel.
OK, that was extreme too, but you get my drift.