Sound is most likely the second the most used sense in writing, and there’s so many ways to tackle writing about the sense of sound. For example, I’ve always been interested in how characters sound when they talk. And I love how sound adds another layer of complexity to a setting.
How Do You Say That?
My interest in how a character sounds may come from years of being a movie fan. Describing a character’s usual voice gives a story a cinematic touch and is a way to help readers differentiate between characters without relying as heavily on visual cues. Below are the ways I described characters’ voices in my YA mystery A Shadow on the Snow.
- My main character Rae has a slight Southern accent, which is noticeable now that she lives in Ohio.
- Her friend Houston, who’s originally from Texas, speaks with that accent in a drawl.
- Her boss Barb speaks in a “crisp clip” when talking to someone she doesn’t like.
- Rae’s dad’s voice is a “penetrating” or “booming baritone”.
- Rae’s great-grandfather has “a voice as deep and rocky as an abandoned mine shaft.”
Set the Scene with Sound
My goal in describing settings is to let the reader feel like he or she is living a scene with the main character. Sounds aids me enormously in creating that illusion.
Rae sets a trap for whoever has been leaving her threatening notes, waiting in her apartment one night when she has made it look like she’s not at home. Since it’s February, the apartment gets dark quickly, giving me an opportunity to appeal to the sense of sound.
- “As the courthouse chimed 7:00”
- Rae’s apartment is a finished room over a garage. Her landlady’s “car chugged into the garage beneath me.”
- “A meow drifted up to me.”
The winter setting allowed me to add descriptions like:
- “I crunched down the drive”
- During a thaw, “the ground squished beneath my boot with every step”
- “Cars and trucks ground by on the salt-covered streets.”
How do you use the sense of sound in your writing? What tips do you have for writing about the sense of sound?