Tuesday, March 9, 2010

And That's When...

Okay, writers, let us tackle the sudden change. I've been noticing the phrase "And that's when..." in a lot of books lately. It's usually used like this:

Dickey rubbed the balloon against his head. He pressed it to the wall and it stayed there, magically. Dickey wondered what other powers his hair had been keeping from him.

And that's when a sound like the mating call of a lemur in a mall rent the air.

I've been seeing the "And that's when" technique used over and over again and I like it so much that I now use it myself.

And that's when I realized it might be overused.

What I think is happening is writers have read advice from so-called experts to avoid using the word "suddenly" and the phrase "all of a sudden" (or as one of my third graders wrote it "althesuden"). And so, dutiful little sheep that we are, we go forth and smite all of the suddenness from our stories and replace them with "And that's when"s.

So, anyone have any great ideas for fresh ways to introduce something that throws a scene in a new direction? Feel free to use the lemur in your example.


Elliot Grace said...

...that's right up there with the classic, "He pictured it in his MIND'S EYE." What? Mind's eye? Really???

TerryLynnJohnson said...

As she surfed through her usual blogs that morning, a new blog grabbed her interest like a lemur polka-party crashing the Oscars.

Okay, lame, but just thought I'd say hi.Saw your comment on jon's blog and followed.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

You got to write that book about Dickey.

Casey McCormick said...

In the next moment? In that moment?

If I can't think of something better than "suddenly," I just remind myself that J.K. Rowling uses it.

No prob. ; )

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I have used "Right then..." or sometimes "Just then..."

Mostly I wanted to link to the mating call of a lemur.

Anita said...

I just can't do it. I am a failure as a writer. In fact, word verifaction is "domso," translation: "dumbso." Also, how did you SUDDENLY get 66 followers? Are you giving stuff away that I somehow missed?

Laura Pauling said...

I think it's better to just leave it out any phrase like that all together. Though, sometimes it works. Sparingly.