Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sound: The Hearing Sense

We all know to consult the five senses when we write. I thought I'd do a few posts on the senses to remind us all how paying attention to our senses can drastically improve our writing.

Sight often claims the most of our attention, but sound, touch, smell, and taste can take a description levels deeper by evoking a response by the reader. The cinnamon soaked scent of baked apple pie...just reading that makes you think of a piping hot slab of dessert, doesn't it? You remember the scent and maybe the taste even tickles your tongue. Description is an important writing tool because of how it connects the reader to the words on the page. That's why it's so important that we carefully select what is of value to be described in the first place.

Today I thought I'd start with sound.

Definition you should know: Onomatopoeia: A word that imitates a sound.

And I don't just mean Thwack! Bam! Whap!

We hear sounds constantly. Even in the quiet we pick up audible creaks and pops, the steady pumping rhythm of a heart, a sigh. Sound is critical, because just like the other senses, it can place us deeper into a scene. I urge you to place yourself in one of your scenes and think about what sounds would be present.

PLEASE REMEMBER: Use your descriptors in moderation and with purpose. Just because a bird might be tweeting in a tree doesn't mean the POV character's ears will notice it. We don't pay attention to EVERY sound around us at all times. We fine tune our hearing. Choose sounds that mean something to the scene in which they live.

Here are some links for further reading on the topic:


  1. Thanks for the info. Great post. Always something to think about.

  2. I like the sound sense. Hopefully, these links will be useful.

  3. I'm so glad you posted this! This is an area where I struggle, so I've bookmarked this post for easy reference. Thanks