1. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    Signifying sounds

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Blips, Sep 24, 2010.

    Is there a generally accepted method of indicating that what the reader is reading is an actual sound?

    I have no trouble describing sounds or presenting a slightly abstracted manner in the middle of a sentence but I've had no need up to this point to actually write a sound.

    For now I think I'm just going to bold the sounds and write them like the rest of the narrative text. Simple EX: BANG. BANG. The gun fired bla bla bla.
     
  2. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    What do you mean by "actual sound"?

    Every sound you describe is a sound. The only other options, as far as I know, are onomatopoeias and ideophones, and I don't think they require any special indication.

    I'd leave it at 'the gun fired twice.', 'he heard two gunshots', or somesuch.

    What's the purpose of adding "BANG, BANG"?
     
  3. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    Basically someone is dreaming, and I want to wake her up through her cell phone vibrating. And the phone is to continue calling out until she manages to finally answer it.

    I could just say: "suddenly her phone is called, vibrating upon her dresser until waking her up" but I wanted to make it a bit more fun and play through the steps of her not wanting to answer it.
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    By the way, I'm trying to (spell ooowwwww) or to be more precise. Imagine a sad reluctant werewolf silhouette against a full moon-what would the whaling sound coming out of their mouth look like in print.:confused:

    As well as vibrating, cell phone play all kinds of tunes, make verious noises and quotations.
    Maybe you could incorporate a tune or sounds from the phone into her dream.
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    A phone is usually set to either vibrate, or ringtone, not really both. When you say 'called' it doesn't sound like a continual or repeated sound, either. You could do something like 'New York, New York had reached the third verse, and still the caller persisted'...
     
  6. shawsend
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    shawsend Active Member

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    augh-oul . . .

    I have problems too.
     
  7. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    I have my phone set to vibrate and ring. It's useful, and my ringtone gets louder over time.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What's wrong with saying the phone buzzed on the bedside table?
     
  9. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    I find onomatopoeia to be a tad childish and cartoony, to tell you the truth. It reminds me of those old Batman shows where "Bip!" and "Pow!" would flash across the screen.

    A werewolf howling at the moon can be described quite chillingly, instead of writing "Awwoooooo!" or whatever.
     
  10. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    Alright you've guys have convinced me: no onomatopoeia.

    I'll just narrate the sounds normally. May become a challenge though to avoid repeating the same basic phrase once the phone vibrates for the 5th time within the scene.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You don't have to describe the same sequence 5 times in a scene. It gets repetitive and boring, no matter how you word it.
     
  12. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    Not good:

    The creature threw back its head and cried, "Owowowwweeyowoyuwoywoerblah!"

    Better:

    The creature threw back its head and as if compelled by habit emitted a coarse ululation, redolent with melancholy.
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I keep coming back to Wreybies' delightful description of a fart in an earlier thread: "the low, wet foghorn of digestion gone awry..." Sure beats the shinola out of whatever spelling you'd come up with to try and represent the sound.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there should never be any bold or ALL-CAPS in a novel ms!

    even if you're writing text for a pb, where all-caps for sounds or word emphasis may be acceptable, they should never be put in bold... that would be a styling decision to be left up to the publisher...

    i don't see why it would... you don't have to bore the reader with excessive detail, y'know... and anyone with a half-decent vocabulary can vary the necessary 'ring' references enough to not make the readers' eyes glaze over...
     
  15. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    I know you have more experience with such things than I so I definitely believe you but this doesn't make any sense to me.

    If publishers retain the right to stylize words as they please, then they effectively can completely ruin character speech and in doing so potentially ruin the character as well.

    I have a scene where there is a hovering helicopter and it orders some people to the ground. I had those words in all-caps and in bold signifying the projected words were extremely loud.

    I also have a few scenes where people are completely out of control and are yelling hysterically. I have those lines of dialog in caps as well with the occasional word bold to further emphasis any loudness placed on a specific word (I'm using italic for tone, where people are dragging words out or being sarcastic (and because it's a ms, italics are replaced with underlines as you'd expect)).

    So I guess my question is: does the writer work with the publisher to ensure his intended work is properly translated to print? Or is a writer forced to hope for the best and hope that the final printed version resembles his intended version as closely as possible?

    ps: thank you (to everyone) for the advice. I've since rewritten the scene and overall it reads as a more professional piece than before.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Use your writing to convey tone, not font and typesetting gymnastics.

    As for putting it into print, you've created the story. Trust the publisher to get the layout and typesetting right. That is in their domain of expertise.
     
  17. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    Alright, looks like I'm going to need to re-write a number of small paragraphs. Thanks for the experience / advice.
     
  18. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    I know this is off topic from the original post but since it's so closely related to what we were just speaking of...

    Is the "no caps" rule unbreakable? I only ask because I'm displaying some quoted literal text from a computer screen that, on the screen, should be all-caps. A rather minute detail I know... but I'm kind of anal.
     
  19. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Motley and Horizon Noise I wholeheartedly agree with both of you.
    However 'horses for courses' as the saying goes and in this particular piece of writing childish is my goal.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    blips...

    if the screen text is being shown as a block insert, then to type it as it supposedly appeared, with all-caps could be ok... but bold should still be avoided...

    i'm assuming you're referring to fictional online material... if referring to real stuff i hope you know you'd need permission to use it...
     
  21. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    Heh, no it's nothing real. The story is set about 51 years in the future.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The all caps in quoted screen text dialogue is legitimate characterization. So are misspellings. In that medium, an observer would see those features of teh dialogue. They would not, however, be correct in conversation over an audio medium (as implied by the thread title, by the way). An observer can't hear spelling or shift lock in spoken dialogue. The observer can hear misused words (but not homophones), or words oddly ordered.
     

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