HALLIE: One reason I love reading comics is for the sounds. In just one day's comics, I found:
- Sounds of a rubber band flying off a pony tail: DING PWANG TWING
- Sounds of energetic application to a task: GAH BOOM! AGK AGK!
- Sounds of frustration: MMPH! RPH!
- The sound of vomit landing on a keyboard: SPLAT
My daughter Molly is particular good at sound words. The word I heard her use first for the sound of a polite fart: poot. Speaking of which, Garrison Keillor once did an entire monologue about their range and variation...from the silent but deadly to the bassoon solo.
I put my own sound words in my novels, only to have them often expunged by an editor.
Do you make up words for sounds? Can you use them in a novel?
HANK: Nope, nope, don't use them. And when they're in books I'm reading, they snag me, and stop me, and I always wonder--couldn't the author do better than this?
I mean--I might have someone say--"I told her, one more word, and pow, right
in the kisser."
But I would not say: POW! The gun went off with a bang. (Or anything like that.)
JAN: So Hallie, I now know where your ACK! ACK! ACK! in your emails comes from. The COMICS!
I love putting sounds in novels, probably because I'm way more geared to sound than I am to visuals, but I don't try to mimic them completely or write new words to describe them. I agree with Hank, especially if capitalized, they call too much attention to themselves.
But I do love when I find the exact right word for the exact right sound or mood I want. And I am fond of thwack, thump, and scrape. As well as whistling and hissing sounds.
RHYS: I definitely love involving all five senses when I read, and I do use sound words : I remember writing "the only sound was the deep TOCK TOCK of the grandfather clock. I'm not sure if I've ever needed the sound of vomit hitting a keyboard, but I'll remember it for future reference. I'm actually much more influenced by smells--evoking place through the smells there.
HALLIE: TOCK TOCK does sound like a very big clock. But "tick tick" is a watch. and "Tick, Tick" is a stop watch, and "TICK, TICK, TICK..." is a bomb about to go off. Punctuation matters.
Rhys, how DO you write smells? Sounds (ahem) like another blog topic.
ROBERTA: Yes, I'm happy to know about that keyboard thing too. And Jan, Hallie's also big on ICK! Obviously I haven't given one thought to all of this because I'm coming up blank...ACK! ACK!
HALLIE: ACK and ICK have their uses. But...for the record...the sound of pulling your foot out of something icky that made you say "ACK!" would be splooge.
To amuse ourselves on this Friday, I’ thought I’d offer up a little challenge... what are your sound words for these variations of BANG:
Sound of a shotgun being fired
Sound of a popgun being fired
Sound of a silenced pistol being fired
Sound of a high caliber weapon being fired
Sound of a distant gunfire
To the person who makes up the best sound words will go a copy of either "Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel" or a copy of my new book, "The Everything Guide to Writing a Novel" (to be sent as soon as copies are available!), winner's choice.
The winner will be announced as a comment to this post on Saturday - please check back!