Shhh! Do You Hear That?

 By Charlotte Bennardo

Sound is one of the senses most used in writing. Authors talk about the waves crashing, angry shouts, doors slamming. 

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For most of us, we are surrounded by sound, and we authors try to incorporate them into our writing. To not include sounds makes the writing thin, we feel something's missing. Think about a specific moment of your day; let's say 10 p.m. Everyone's in bed, sleeping- but there are still sounds: your partner's breathing (or snoring, let's be real), the bed squeaking as you turn over, truck downshifting on a road somewhere, the heat or A/C turning on... Even silence is an acknowledgement to sound. Think about a good horror or psychological thriller, when no outside noise is heard, but there is the rush of blood in our ears, the soft sigh of our breath as we listen, searching for THE sound we most dread: the creak of a stair, the soft foot fall of a stalker. 

Unfortunately, describing those sounds leads to one of the most frustrating aspects authors face when writing: telling vs. showing. Consider:

I heard her sigh softly in the dimness.



She sighed softly in the dimness. 

(Same logic applies to numerous other words, but I digress. That's a subject for another post.)

Sound should be well represented so that the reader is HEARING them in their mind, not just acknowledging them, as shown in the telling example. And, if written well, readers will be LISTENING for sounds in the story, such as during a crime drama, there should be wails of police sirens, or during a shootout scene, the bang of bullets and the whine of a ricochet, or during a scene at a playground, the yells, calls, and shouts of children playing and arguing over game rules. There is no complete picture without sounds.

Ideally, all the senses should be well represented, although 'taste' can't be an equal unless it's a culinary story. 

So when we write, we need to LISTEN for the sounds that surround us, and not only are part of the story, but enhance it. 

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 writes MG, YA, NA, and adult novels in sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, and paranormal genres. She is the author of the award-winning middle grade Evolution Revolution trilogy, Simple Machines, Simple Plans, and Simple Lessons. She co-authored the YA novels Blonde OPS, Sirenz, and Sirenz Back in Fashion. She has two short stories in the Beware the Little White Rabbit (Alice through the Wormhole) and Scare Me to Sleep (Faces in the Wood) anthologies. Having finished her MFA, she's applying what she learned and is working on several children's and adult novels, along with some short stories. She lives in NJ with her family and her floofy cat. When they trimmed the backyard tree, the crazy squirrel couple had to move out.