nice-1763660_1280Sound may be the second most popular sense writers evoke. Below are three ways to enhance your writing about the sense of sound.

Voices

I love it when an author describes how a character sounds. Dr. Watson often stated that the voice of Sherlock Holmes was strident. Is the voice high-pitched? A scratchy bass? Carries a heavy accent? Does the character talk fast or drawl? It’s now considered amateurish to have a line of dialogue and accompany it with a tag, such as “he roared”, “she squeaked”, or “he snarled.” So I have to get creative to let my readers know how a character sounds.

  • “His snarl forced the other man to rear back.”
  • “His roar would have done ten lions proud.”
  • “He talked as fast as a flock of woodpeckers at work.”
Music

If you have a character who loves music, you can have songs or tunes running through her mind to reveal her feelings about other characters and situations. By the way, you can use the titles of songs but you can not use the lyrics of copyrighted songs. You can get inventive and have your character create her own lyrics to fit familiar tunes. A few years ago, my kids loved the middle grade mystery series Jigsaw Jones. Jigsaw’s partner Mila would make up lyrics appropriate to the story, using tunes of well-known children’s songs.

A character with musical talent could also describe sounds in musical terms.

  • Her staccato, piccolo voice clashed with her husband’s mellow cello.
  • The gate squeaked like a first-grader’s first stroke on a violin.
Nature

All my stories, so far, have significant sections set in rural areas. Working in the sounds is important because nature is never quiet. In face, when nature gets quiet, something strange is going on ( Speculative fiction, anyone?) Bird songs signal what season a story is taking place. My backyard is home to many mourning doves. Their plaintive call would work well in a scene if I wanted to underline a melancholy tone. I often write about the sound of the wind. Where I live, the air is rarely still.

How do you use sound in your writing?