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I have a situation where two characters run into each other by coincidence, and they're very surprised to see each other. One of them is hurt, which the other notices pretty quickly, and she shows concern for him. It goes something like this:

Her eyes widened. In a rush, she stumbled out, "Jonathan, what happened to you?"

I want to replace "in a rush, she stumbled out" with something more appropriate. I'd like to convey how surprised she is to see him again and how desperate she is to help him.

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    You could say Hurriedly she blurted out, "Jonathan.... But blurted suggests that she spoke thoughtlessly, saying the first thing that came into her head. – WS2 Dec 20 '15 at 22:10
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    "In a rush, the words tumbled out..." – Jim Dec 20 '15 at 22:26
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How about:

sputter

To speak quickly or in a confused way because you are upset, surprised, etc. (Merriam Webster)

Or Gabble

To talk quickly and in a way that is difficult to understand. (Merriam Webster)

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Her eyes widened. "Jonathan," she cried, "what happened to you?"

The reporting verb, to cry suggests that the speaker spoke instantly and showed deep concern at the same time. If the OP prefers to emphasise the "rush" and speed of her speech, then I would suggest babble

(Oxford Dictionaries)

babble: Utter something rapidly and incoherently

‘Thank goodness you’re all right,’ she babbled

If the OP wants to convey shock, anxiety, and fear; the noun alarm could be used

Her eyes widened in alarm. "Jonathan," she cried, "what happened to you?

Other reporting verbs can be found on CDO and Wiktionary

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I'd like to convey how surprised she is to see him again and how desperate she is to help him.

So instead of:

Her eyes widened. In a rush, she stumbled out, "Jonathan, what happened to you?"

Consider using:

Her eyes widened. Without hesitating, she eagerly inquired, "Jonathan, what happened to you?"

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  • That sounds rather cheerful, perhaps even gleeful - you can just about see the grin on her face :) . – Lawrence Dec 21 '15 at 14:38
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No word needed -- your description of the eyes conveys shock, and the line of dialogue implies urgency. Juxtapose, and you nail the feeling:

Her eyes widened. "Jonathan, what happened to you?"

Or, if we already know this is Jonathan, cut that and it moves even better.

Her eyes widened. "What happened to you?"

Make the reader feel the scene, not just read it. Don't just look for better words; look for no words.

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