1. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    spelling out a sound effect

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Feb 3, 2011.

    Okay people,
    This is a silly one, but how would you spell out the cracking of a whip. I'm thinking, "Wapeesh!" or "Whop-eesh!" It will actually be coming from someone mimicking a whip sound (not an actual whip).
     
  2. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think both your suggestions sound good. You could also try "K-tch!"... although I suspect it would confound readers since it doesn't look pronounceable.
     
  3. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    onomatopoeia whip

    whip crack away, whip crack away, whip crack away.
     
  4. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Someone will say it, so it might as well be me. Consider if you need the actual noise at all. What does "Wapeesh!" or one of the proposed variants offer, that "the whip cracked / rang out / kissed its target" (or something similar) does not?
     
  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Because it's in dialogue, and the person speaking is actually trying to mimic a whip.

    People do this in real life, like when they joke about someone being "whipped" by their partner.
     
  6. jaywriting
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    jaywriting Member

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    If I'm trying to represent the sound of a whip, I'll just say Yah Yah like I'm whipping a horse. Sounds nothing like a whip but people know what I mean.
    I've never actually heard someone reproduce the sound of a whip in conversation, probably because its quite hard to do.

    Not all whips sound the same. A short/slow whip just gives a woosh. If its long enough and fast enough you get a sonic boom producing the "crack".

    Whip-crack is moderately onomatopoeic as zaffy mentioned.
     
  7. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Would you consider it needed for the sole purpose of it being in dialogue? You could still put something like "He tried to mimic the sound of the whip..." and achieve the same effect. Personally, I'd recommend to avoid trying to spell sounds out because you have a great possibility to confuse your reader (unless done right or with the right sound--I would not use "wapeesh" without at least some explanation outside of dialogue). There are some occasions when you do need to spell it out through dialogue though. For example:

    "It went ka-bloom!" He jumped in the air and fanned his arms to the outside.
    "Wait, wait," the other said, trying to hold a laugh. "How'd it go?"
    "Ka-bloom!" He repeated the motion, spit flying from his mouth as he sailed through the air.

    So if your use of the imitated whip crack falls into a category somewhat like this, maybe your character makes the whip sound after everything he says or after every good joke he comes up with or after he bests someone, I'd probably use "wapeesh" for the sound in that case. It seems closest to how I personally try to mimic a whip. As I said above though, I'd make sure it had an explanation so folks didn't think you just misspelled capeesh.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    anything more complex than a simple 'whap' or 'crack' wouldn't make much sense to me... the examples given above don't 'sound' at all like a whip...
     
  9. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    *CRACK!*

    "YAAAAH!"

    The whip left a tender red mark on the man's back.
     
  10. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I think the reasons they don't is because the examples are of a mimicked whip sound. Try to imitate the sound of a whip cracking with your voice; "wapeesh" or maybe "wa-pish" are really not that far off. How often do actual voice-mimicked sounds sound like the original sound though? Not very often. Call me unimaginative, but I have a hard time visualizing anyone mimicking the sound of a whip by saying "whap" or "crack."
     
  11. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Parallel thinking. Change the weapon. BANG!
     
  12. ShortBus
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    ShortBus Member

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    I think I know what your getting at. And, you were right the 1st time.

    I'm pretty sure the scenario will explain it anyway.

    Dave, Jim, and Mike are having a conversation about Dave and his new girlfriend.

    In the middle of Dave's rant about how awesome his girlfriend is, and how they are doing so much together, Mike and Jeff have a quiet conversation amongst themselves.

    "Man, Dave sure is p***y whipped." Mike quietly whispers do Jim.

    "Tell me about it. Wha-psh!" Jim says with a grin on his face.

    ________________

    I do know what you mean by actually spelling it. I think if the audience knows where its going they will understand.


    EDIT: Another thing you might want to think of is that in other languages they have different noises. It doesn't make sense but here is a few examples.

    http://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/dabbott/animal.html

    I know it is spelled in different languages but it is still pronounced differently as well.

    EDIT 2: heres a youtube video of people from different countries pronouncing them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEpudI87Pew
     
  13. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Quietly whispers?
    As opposed to?
     
  14. ShortBus
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    ShortBus Member

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    as opposed to blatantly saying right to the guys face.

    like talking behind someones back right in front of them.

    it was just an example for the question of how to spell a sound in a dialogue. it looked like the people who posted didn't quite get what the original thread was about.

    i guess he could of said it to both the guys instead of secretly saying that dave was p whipped to jim but that doesnt really matter.

    its really about how you would say "the sound of a cracking of a whip" out loud in a dialogue.
     
  15. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my opinion, you can spell out a sound effect is it out into context, especially if it was of a repetitive nature, rather then describe the same sound over and over again.

    "Tat. The sound of a drop, hitting the floor. A few seconds passed. Tat. I glanced at the sink. I would need to fix that damn sink someday. Tat."


    Or something less lame. The same argument could be made of distant gunfire, slow steps approaching. Etc.
     
  16. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Klah-tch

    The whip's physical appearance influences the sound it makes, I think. Also, what you hit, or do you hit the air as to scare an animal?

    Anyway, it's a phonetic issue. 'Klah-tch' jumps to mind, if hitting a person or animal, but maybe this sounds more as a belt (used as whip)? When hitting the air, it's more a 'pang'.

    HTH
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sb...

    i think zappy was pointing out that 'quietly whispered' is a redundancy...

    which i almost did earlier, but then just didn't bother...
     
  18. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that works in this case.

    Another way of doing it could be to say he "imitated the sound of..."

    I read that in a book recently and it worked well. The character was opening a bottle of champagne and then "imitated the sound of it popping".
     
  19. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As opposed to a stage whisper.
     
  20. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I have read books, that use tries to spell out a sound, other then traditional batman violent disclaimors; bang, ka-boom, pow, they did tend to make me read them several times before figuring out the word is a sound, not some word I didn't know the meaning of, or speaking a foriegn language.

    whip-ish could sound like a whip snapping. Its all in the person hearing it.

    I try not to use spelled sounds, but describe them for that reason.
     
  21. ShortBus
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    :) now i get what u meant.

    I didn't put much thought into what i was saying i guess. I didn't know it was going to be picked apart like that.

    Those are things that I have to watch for when I do write. It will probably benefit me to get into a good habit of writing correctly the first time but I still have a lot to learn.

    VM80 had a good point as well. I don't think either way of doing it (spelling it out in dialogue or writing the action) will work in every instance. I guess its up to your discretion.

    I hope we helped. I know we tried. :)
     

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