Writing sound effects?

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  1. #1

    Writing sound effects?

    Sorry for yet another post... (I'll make this one the last one for a while).

    So I am having trouble (again, I know it is commonplace ) in regards to how to recreate a sound effect in writing. To start of with, can I even use the actual sound effect? As far as I can remember, it is not common place outside of say a comic book. I want to make the actual noise but every time I write it down it ends up looking so wrong and out of place as I stare at it. I know I could describe it but that does not have the same effect. I am trying to snap both the character and the reader out of their current thought process. However when I describe it, it does not feel it serves the purpose dramatically enough (Maybe I need to use more colourful language?). It feels a bit more dramatic when I use the word and it serves as a conduit to get straight into the action, but the 'BANG' looks out of place with the rest of the writing. Also not sure how to format it? Would it be in italics, capitals, would I need to use "?

    I will try and give a random example below.

    Example 1:

    The artillery guns were relentlessly pounding Jim's position. "That god damn shelling is really doing my head in!"

    Example 2:

    BANG, BOOM, BANG! "That god damn shelling is really doing my head in!"

    When I look at Example 1, it paints the whole picture in my head, the artillery guns firing. Example 2, I just think of the explosions, which is probably all the character would see which is kind of what I want. Thank you for any replies in advance.
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  2. #2
    For me, I kind of like your second example. Maybe you could write it as BANG....BOOM....BANG! to allow for time between the explosions perhaps. You could put it in italics but for me the simple capitalization is effective enough. Also now that I look at it you can incorporate it as... The artillery guns were relentlessly pounding Jim's position. BANG...., BOOM...., BANG! "That god damn shelling is really doing my head in!"

    ​That's my take on it, anyway
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  3. #3
    Member TJ1985's Avatar
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    First, don't apologize for starting threads. That's kind of what this whole forum specializes in.

    I like example one far better. It's less comic bookish, and it let me make up my own sound effects to put with the movie you've put into my mind. For me, I've learned that it's far easier to leave as much as possible up to the reader and the reader's imagination. Most people can define a more personally jarring detail set than I can write. Obviously, there's a limit to how much detail needs to be there. You wouldn't want the reader to feel like they'll have to work harder reading your story than you did to write it.

    Example one lets each reader put together the sounds they like, that matter to them. But, I would adjust it a little, were it my piece. (That's the great thing about writing, the whole world has suggestions.)

    As the rounds roared in, the thumping concussion of each blast further deafened Jim as he yelled over the din, "That god damn shelling is really doing my head in!"

    That way, you let the readers figure out which end of the excitement they're on, and you let them have a chance to design their own racket. Of course, it's your story, and these little problems are what make it a new challenge every day. I've read only the lines you posted, but I'm picturing a guy, probably a sergeant, trying to keep his troops in line under tense fire that's got little interest in letting up. And, the enemy mortar rounds are finding their range rapidly. Putting that much together from a single line, that's a good sign for the story.
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  4. #4
    I like the first one, it's, like TJ1985 said, far less comicbook-y and more dramatic.

  5. #5
    Member wainscottbl's Avatar
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    It depends on the context I suppose. Like in this scene in my ongoing novella, because it is a quick moving prologue meant to give a more emotional back story within a short period I use

    “Did you lock the doors,”Mrs. Williams asked. It seemed she asked on cue.

    “No, not the front--“


    “What was that?” Nevada said suddenly.


    “What is it?”

    “I don’t know. Hold on. I’m going to put the phone down.”

    But if I was not going for this sort of flash backstory it might be

    "Did you lock the doors?" Mrs. Williams asked.

    "No, not the front--"

    As if on cue, there was a bang [you might change the word] from the back of the house. "What was that?" Nevada asked. Another bang followed. "I'm going to put the phone down she told her mother.

    And then at the end:

    it is the sentence of the court that you be confined to the Kentucky State Penitentiary until that time when you shall be put to death by lethal injection. I can only say, may God have mercy on your soul. So be it. This court is adjourned.”

    Here I am thinking it might be better to say: Then the sound of the gavel and the cries from the gallery. [or something like that]

    I agree with TJ that it does sound comic bookish perhaps, but both can be effective, depending on what you want to acheive
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  6. #6
    I thought the boom really fell flat, not the bangs. I like the bangs. Um... I don't do sound effects.

    Wain seems to have it right in my opinion.
    "When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand." - Raymond Chandler


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