1. JT Tiger
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    JT Tiger Member

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    Writing sound

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JT Tiger, Jan 22, 2011.

    I'm wrestling with a problem in my story and could do with some help. Essentially, I'm trying to turn the sound of a large number of coins being dropped into words. This should be simple, but I can't for the live of me decide on how to write this!

    Ching-ch-ch-chinging-chinga-ch-ching rang the unmistakeable sound of pennies being dropped.

    This time, the whole queue sighed.


    It feels rather... off. Suggestions? Ting-a-ling, for example? :p
     
  2. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    Play the sound into a speech recognition program and see what it thinks you said?
     
  3. JT Tiger
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    JT Tiger Member

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    That's so crazy it might just work!

    Now, have I got a bag of pennies...
     
  4. Axo Non Roadkill
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    Axo Non Roadkill Member

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    I got a similar question. If a person says "FYI", not "For your information" but the abbreviation of it, would you write it "FYI" or "Eff why eye"?
     
  5. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    "The mass of pennies clanked upon the counter."
     
  6. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    It would be FYI most definitely. The reader will know how it sounds when they read it.
     
  7. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Ditto. Especially in dialogue.
     
  8. JT Tiger
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    JT Tiger Member

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    I'd prefer to have the sound written as I've tried - It suits the structure of the piece better.

    But thanks anyway.
     
  9. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Lothgar attempts to toss in his two cents worth, but accidentally drops his entire handful of change. The odd coins hit the counter with a flat, metallic clatter, spilling and cascading across the counter top, with the odd nickle making its dull, swirling, rolling sound, as it spirals around in an ever decreasing circle, rolling on edge, until it eventually topples over, with a wobbling, racket.

    "Whoops" offers the embarrassed Lothgar, with a sheepish shrug.
     
  10. Edward G
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    Edward G Banned

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    No it doesn't. No matter how you try to write it the reader will skip over it. You have to understand this not only about dropping coins but about whatever other "little darlings" you want to put in your work.

    If you are going to write something and not consider the reader, then write in a journal. If you are going to write a story that you want another human being to read, then you must consider your audience.

    This is why I stress that people need to go to college to be a writer. These are the things one learns in English 101 (English Composition), which is required in every accredited degree program.

    There are five core classes, in my opinion, that every writer must take in college, even if they don't go on to finish a degree:

    English 101 (English Composition)

    English 102 (College Literature)

    General Psychology

    Social Psychology

    Human Growth and Development


    I realize that's a bit of an investment in time and money. But if you won't do at least that much beyond high school, you have no business writing for the public.

    In my opinion.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ok, so that's your opinion... but it's nonsense, in mine... the vast majority of successful writers 'for the public' [in fiction, at least] never took any of those subjects...
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen this sort of things done plenty of times in published novels, but never to the extended extent shown here. In my view, if you're going to try to use a word that emulates a sound you want to convey, you should keep it short. Just enough to give an impression to the reader of the sound you are conveying, and then move on.
     
  13. JT Tiger
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    JT Tiger Member

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    Whilst my initial effort was intended very much as a placeholder and is clumsy at best, that tone ("little darlings"? Pur-leeze) strikes me as a tad patronising. Also, the assumption that you know more about the structure of the piece than I do is... odd. You've read just two lines, after all.

    Secondly, why are you even bringing up your notions of what a writer should have studied in this thread? I hope you're not subtly questioning my own writing credentials? That would be most uncool.

    Lothgar: I like it a lot. Very descriptive. However, for this I want/need to keep the sentence short 'n' sharp. A longer description will, I feel, break the flow of the story at this point.

    Steerpike: I agree completely. It's far too long as it stands right now. I've a few options, really.

    a) Reduce the length of the sound. "Ching-a-ling" rang the unmistakeable sound of pennies being dropped.

    b) Lose the written form of the sound. "The unmistakeable sound of pennies being dropped rang through... etc"

    Writing sound effects, barring the most basic BANGS and CRASHES, is a tad more challenging than I first thought! What sound do dropped coins make, dagnabbit?!? Ching? Ting? Ring? Dingaling? I'm sure there must be an -ing involved somewhere. ;)

    EDIT: On second glance, are you suggesting I'm not taking the reader into consideration with my writing? And I need to go (back) to university and learn how to write properly?

    EDIT 2: Oh, and thanks to everyone for their input so far!
     
  14. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with some of the other posters that actually trying to write out the sound isn't the best thing to do. Mainly because you are trying to describe a group of sounds as a long, single word.

    Are you certain something like this wouldn't work better:

    "The pennies fell to the ground in a musical chorus.
     
  15. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    If the sound of the pennies can fit in with the flow of the writing, the beat, if you will, that is present (if there is one), then by all means write out the sounds. I love novels, often times older works, where sounds are written out. A good writer can blend it in to the novel where it is not a hinderance, but flows with the pace.
     
  16. JT Tiger
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    JT Tiger Member

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    Thanks for your input, Ellipse & Holden.

    Ellipse, typically it would work better. Definitely. But in line with what Holden has said, I personally feel that it suits the pace far better. If I can't make it work, I'll have to do a rewrite, but if I can effectively describe the sound in the way I intend, I feel it will be far more effective.

    Obviously this may eventually change in a later draft, but I really like the way it feels. It just requires more thought at this stage.

    Thanks!
     
  17. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    *Missy Elliot's lawyers keeping a watchful eye on this thread*

    Given that ching (ching) is already associated in the common mind with money, it might be that you're ahead of the game in going with ching, or ching inspired variants.

    From what I can gather of the context - This time - I think you're entirely justified with this approach.
     
  18. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    JT, while Edward's assessment seems pretty harsh, before I venture any further opinion on his opinion, I think I would want to know WHY exactly, you believe the actual onomotopaeic reproduction of the sound is more expressive and better suited for the piece than simply relating a descriptive of the sound of the pennies being dropped.
     
  19. JT Tiger
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    Mainly due to how it fits in with the rhythm, flow and beat of the opening passages of my story. Without wanting to post more of the story than I already have (at this time), I felt it added a stronger comedic edge to the final line.

    But let me make this clear - It is in no way set in stone. The point of this thread was not for analysis of my writing form. It was to look for inspiration on a problem I had come across while writing. The responses so far have been interesting and enlightening, and I've looked a few ways of rewriting the passage to keep the comic edge as sharp as possible without writing the sound effect as I did originally.

    This thread has helped due to the variety of different responses. They've helped me to look at the problem anew and in doing so have helped me to improve my work. I'm pleased with this, obviously. Writing is a learning process, nomatter how long you've been doing it.

    I take issue with what he wrote, however, because I see it as insulting to all authors who have not followed his bizarre dictum of a writer's educational path. I'm quite sure this was not his intention, but that's they way it appears to me. Patronising and arrogant.

    In my opinion, of course. Heh. ;)

    EDIT: I'm not against criticism of my work. I'm not against someone tearing my work to pieces if they feel it's not up to scratch. I'm not against someone saying "JT, that just doesn't work. I know you like it but, as a reader, it just doesn't read well." What I am against, however, is an individual dictating what you must study before you can be a writer. Particularly if they aren't going to relate it to the point at hand.
     
  20. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually like the ching-ch-ch-chinging-chinga-ch-ching onomatepoeia you came up with. I think it captures the sound of a handful of coins dropped on the ground very well. But then, I'm both an avid comic book reader, and tend to enjoy the challenge of pronouncing words I've never seen before.
     
  21. Axo Non Roadkill
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    Axo Non Roadkill Member

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    Peronally, I get goosebumps of the bad kind, my toenails curl up and my teeth get tinnitus at onomatopea, especially those 2 syllables and up. Reading something that isn't really a word and reading the right sound into it and all, makes the reading process feel bumpy to me.
    In manga, they tend to slap gogogogogogogogogo all over the panel when 2 fighters are staring each-other up. The interpretation (what does the sound mean, how does it sound, what pitch etc.) of the gogogogogogogogogogo disrupts my reading flow and throws me out of the story and into red-pen-mode.

    But maybe that's just me.

    But why should it be so long with so many -ch- in it? How about just Tingaling or Kaching?
     
  22. JT Tiger
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    JT Tiger Member

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    Because while dropping a single coin might make a kaching, dropping a large number of coins wouldn't.

    Nearly all onomatapoeia are difficult to get right, and the longer they are the more difficult - and potentially cumbersome - they become. It's also quite the divisive subject, so I'll definitely have some thinking to do when I come back to it.
     
  23. ArtWander
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    ArtWander Contributing Member

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    Although I will sometimes use phonetic spelling of things that take place in audio, I feel that this is better left up for the reader to imagine such a sound. The only exception to the rule would be if something is making a noise that could not be described with words, and better left up to a phonetic phrase (ie, some kind of noise from an alien device?)
     
  24. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    In my opinon, if the sound is "unmistakable" then you don't need to describe it.

    The unmistakable, almost musical, sound of pennies being dropped rang out.

    This lets the reader's mind fill in the sound. I think described sounds work better when they are short. Too long and it messes with the flow of the sentence.
     
  25. Edward G
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    Edward G Banned

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    Patronizing is just part of my charm. And "little darlings" is a writing term--it's not something I made up. It refers to those pieces of writing the writer likes a great deal but don't resonate with the reader. It's important to be objective enough in your self-editing to see them and eliminate them.

    I don't know anything about the structure of the piece, and I never commented on that.

    I don’t know what your writing credentials are. I was merely jumping up on my favorite soapbox.

    I am suggesting in this bit that you’re not taking your reader into consideration, because you insist on writing something they will skip over. And we all need to go back to university and learn to write—me included. But if we’ve already spent the money and time in formal classes, then we need to continue with our education by reading books and magazines on the subject of writing. I am going to check my mail as soon as I finish posting this, in fact, to see if a book on writing I bought has arrived.
     

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