1. mbinks89
    Offline

    mbinks89 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Montreal

    Writing sound effects.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mbinks89, Jul 31, 2013.

    For a while I was in the habit of writing sound effects like so:
    CAW, for when a crow cawed, or CRACK, for a gunshot.
    In your opinion, is this too hokey, and more suited to a graphic novel than literature, or does it add something fresh?
     
  2. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Graphic novel or kid's book. Not for adults' novels.
     
  3. Robin Murarka
    Offline

    Robin Murarka Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    I find using simile and metaphor works well. You can't show them, but you can relay the experience of the sound.

    "The abrupt sound of the jackhammer rocked against his mind like a blade, piercing his thoughts with a suffocating agony."

    I also gravitate towards removing unnecessary details from stories and so, if the experience of the sound is not relevant to the mood, story, or purpose of the scene, I don't dwell on its description too much. If it is relevant, it should write itself.
     
  4. matwoolf
    Offline

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,300
    Likes Received:
    2,227
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    'Caw caw,' sang the crow.

    I spied her atop the nest.

    'Crack.'

    Purdey smoked and barrels broken - vermin fell from the sky.
     
  5. GoodTweetyBird
    Offline

    GoodTweetyBird Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2013
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Virginia
    I had trouble with sounds too so now it's "John felt himself jump involuntarily at the sound of a large bore rifle report from somewhere too close by..."

    jh
     
  6. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    I guess you could write something like "There was a loud crack when John's gun went off."
    But I'm not sure about something like "Mike walked into the room. CRACK! He fell down, dead. John holstered his gun and walked away." That comes off a little silly.

    On the other hand, if you do it clearly tongue-in-cheek, it can be funny.
    "John realized he was lost in the woods. A crow was perching on a tree branch, staring at him.
    'Caw.'
    'Shut up, dumb bird.'
    'Caw.'
    'I said, shut up!'
    'Caw.'"
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Thomas Kitchen
    Offline

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1,258
    Likes Received:
    422
    Location:
    I'm Welsh - and proud!
    I think anything can be used if used well. It's a typical answer I know, but it's true. The only thing I would say is use them sparingly, otherwise they may get a bit gimmicky. Remember that every writer's style is different, and what one person is more comfortable doing and is good at, another will fail completely.

    Try it and see. :)
     
  8. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    7,299
    Location:
    Scotland
    "Rawk! Nevermore?" Ka-POW.
     
  9. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    LOL!

    Regarding the OP, I think that sound effects are the stuff of films, description is what is done in literature.
     
  10. Steve Day
    Offline

    Steve Day Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2013
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    PA
    Indeed. POW! and BLAM! are for the comics.

    Funny story: Back in the '50's there was much worry about comics influencing our children. As an example they offered the sub rosa mind control of a cannon's report- BARROOM! Deconstructed as "bar room". (Yes the thought police were with us, way back then.)
     
  11. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    [MENTION=55179]Steve Day[/MENTION] - I remember being in seventh grade in parochial school, and the nuns were lecturing us on "decency" (this was back in the day, when The Tablet published its list of "condemned" films). But on this particular day, our nun was going on about printed materials, and at one point she actually put Playboy and Mad Magazine in the same sentence, and all of us boys rose up in protest. She was so taken aback at the outburst that I don't think it occurred to her to be shocked that we knew the difference.

    It was probably just as well.
     
  12. mbinks89
    Offline

    mbinks89 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Montreal
    Thanks for the input, guys, you've given me some good feedback.
     
  13. ManOrAstroMan
    Offline

    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    342
    Location:
    Missouri
    I think written sound effects work best when they interrupt a line of--
    *THUNK!*
    YOW! Who left that *#&+ing box in the hallway?! Sunnunva--
    What was I saying?
     
  14. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    It's better to just say what it sounds like then use onomatopoeia. Here's a sentence from one of my favorite writers where he uses sound.
    "The beaver lowered its head into the pond and then its belly disappeared and its paddle-like tail swung in a wide arc and cracked flat against the surface of the water. The birches around the pond squeezed the sound and made it sharp and loud, like a rifle going off."
     

Share This Page