1. Exzalia
    Offline

    Exzalia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Messages:
    9,926
    Likes Received:
    346

    Sound affects! should you use them and how.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Exzalia, Aug 1, 2012.

    Since you guys have been so helpful I have another question. how should one use sound affects in writing? do you find it to be a good idea? If not what do you use to describe sounds?

    Here's an example of what I'm speaking of.

    I focussed, a ball of fire formed in my hand hot and seething. I cried and threw it at the incoming monster. BOOOOM! burnt and charred flesh flew every where.
    Or
    I focussed, a ball of fire formed in my hand hot and seething. I cried and threw it at the incoming monster. An exslpotion echoed loudly ringing my ears, burnt and charred flesh flew everywhere.

    Another example
    The door creaked open as if it hadn't been oiled in years
    Or
    I opened the door. *Creeeeek* it hadn't been oiled in years.

    So should sound describing words ever be used? if so do you have any better than you basic BOOOM? My story has quiet the few exsplotions.
     
  2. BFGuru
    Offline

    BFGuru Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Somewhere in insomiaville
    I like the second, and first descriptions better.
     
  3. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    I would be very reticent to use onomatopoeia like that in prose. I would definitely rather try and describe the sound, like in your first examples. It seems a) cheesy, and b) more than a little lazy to go for some sound effect in place of good, solid description.

    (Also, affect = verb, effect = noun)
     
  4. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Your sentence of "I cried and threw it..." sounds like the girl is crying from the ball burning her own hand and frantically trying to get rid of it. Might wanna use a different verb there?

    Sound effects - BOOOOM and Creeeeek are both childish. Could work in a children's or teenage novel perhaps. But in both examples a rewrite would be better.

    For example:
    Instead of "I opened the door. *Creeeeek" It hadn't been oiled in years"
    Write this: "The door creaked opened. It hadn't been oiled in years."

    It's much more effective, no?

    In your BOOM example - this clause: "An exslpotion echoed loudly ringing my ears" is too much telling. It is a split second action and the writing should reflect this. The clause drags out what should have only lasted a few seconds at best. It's not succinct enough.

    Rather, "I focused. A seething ball of fire formed in my hand and I flung it at the incoming monster. It didn't even scream. Burnt and charred flesh exploded every where."

    Or: "I focused. A seething ball of fire formed in my hand and I flung it at the incoming monster. Burnt and charred flesh exploded every where."

    ^something on those lines. Instead of BOOM, the monster's reaction would make your action scene seem a lot more realistic. I know my example wasn't perfect but heck I spent 5 seconds on it, but you get my point. Also, we all know fire is hot - which is why I rephrased it to "a seething ball of fire", esp because it allows me to connect it to the next action, making it seem more like one fluid motion. "Exploded" also makes the action more violent, graphic and dramatic. Otherwise do not have a clause at all - just jump straight to the burnt flesh. Make the action abrupt, like an explosion ought to be. I personally prefer my 2nd example.

    Now to your actual question - sound effects. It could work. For example, there was a scene in my first draft when my MC crept through a dark building, and I reference some girls I saw earlier upstairs - paired with the ominous atmosphere I'd just built up, I decided to use "tap, tap, tap" in the paragraph. It was something about their marbles being thrown, dropping, and rolling. It worked because to hear the sound was essential for atmosphere. But it should be used scarcely, IMO.

    But I'd avoid exaggerating the effects like spelling "creak" "creeeeeeeek" - it's the exaggeration that makes it look very childish. I always use proper spelling even for sound effects.

    But if you're writing a kids' book then it's different.
     
  5. Dagolas
    Offline

    Dagolas Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    644
    Likes Received:
    68
    Location:
    France
    As has been said, for a kiddies novel "Boom" or "Creek" could work. Honestly, I ould only ever use onomatopeia in comic books, not in novels.
    Take this for example:

    "As the mysterious man lifted his gun, I heard a loud bang and fell to the floor with intense, searing pain in my chest. Then all went black."
    and
    "As the mysterious man lifted his gun.... BANG! I fell to the floor, with intense, searing pain in my chest. Then all went black."
     
  6. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    In this example, I prefer the second BANG example :p The other "I heard a loud bang" alienates me from the narrator and I cannot feel it as intensely - also, too long for a split second action.
     
  7. Exzalia
    Offline

    Exzalia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Messages:
    9,926
    Likes Received:
    346
    It seems the general consensus is to avoid onomatopoeia so far. Interesting I'll take that into account when writing. But I want to hear from a few others first, does anyone use onomatopoeia often?
     
  8. Exzalia
    Offline

    Exzalia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Messages:
    9,926
    Likes Received:
    346
    So basically it's better to avoid onomatopoeia most of the time, using it only when one thinks it will enhance the scene.
     
  9. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Loosely, yes. But really, you should only be using anything where it will enhance the scene.
     
  10. ThievingSix
    Offline

    ThievingSix Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2012
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    1
    I think a lot of people use sound effects in cheesy/cliché way. Onomatopoeia, or sound effects, are embedded within language more than you would think and i don't think capitalising adds anything to a good use of sound.

    "A loud crack echoed through the dead of night, silencing the roar of the rumbling ocean. As my vision started to clear, and the thoughts stated to flow, the throbbing pain hit me. I really needed to stop leaving my lego scattered on the floor, my feet had a real knack of finding those treacherous cubes in the thick of night. "

    In that example i've used onomatopoeia in a non-cheesy way, perhaps its the choice of words and although i can see its not entirely what your after, i think there's no need to use obvious capitalisation or "creeeeeeeek". Personally it doesn't add much. The other consideration would be the effect your after, "tick-tock tick-tock" would be another commonly used example of a sound effect that i think is effective.

    "The incessant tick-tock of the clock echoed through the lecture theatre. Every student in the room stared at the old grand father clock, tick...tock, tick...tock , eagerly awaiting the sweet music that spelt the end of their hour of torture."
     
  11. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    Thieving is right, there are plenty or words in normal use that convey sound effects: explosion, shattered, creak, hit, rumbling, throbbing, pall, silence, and those are just a few.

    The shuttle hit the ground out of sight and an explosion temporarily turned the night to day. A second, even larger blast followed the first, the force of it causing the very ground to rattle, and a massive ball of flame rose into the sky. Kate covered her face with a hand as the mushroom cloud rose up, flickering from yellow to darkness, as the fires underneath burned uncontrolled, into the night sky.

    Just in this one paragraph, I used three different sound effects. Two to describe explosions, with blast being a synonym so "explosion" didn't get get repetitive, rattled was the third. I could've used rumble too..but rattle was the first word to come to mind, and like Stephen King, I believe in using the first word you think of, unless it's repetitive and bloats your dialogue
     

Share This Page