Monday, July 6, 2009

Sounds of Silence

After a recent discussion with fellow Bootcamper Jenn, I've been mulling over the use of sound in our writing.

It's important to remember to include mention of the senses in your writing: the smells, sounds, tastes, sights and tactile images need to be shown to the reader.

Characters going about their lives with no influence from sound will stand out to a reader. It's not natural.

But the inclusion of sound can be difficult. How do you describe some sounds? And how do you avoid the use of the same descriptive word, particularly when attributed to speech (eg grunt, snigger, sigh)?

Although sometimes I think the use of silence can be just as powerful as sound.

I thought it might be useful to point you to one site I have found helpful: The Bookshelf Muse ( which regularly composes thesaurus entries, and one of the subheadings for each topic is sound (although a fantastic site when writing any descriptive passage).


  1. Thanks Anita. Interesting. It got me listening: I'm sitting at my desk and I can hear my fingers clicking on the keyboard, as well as the more distant sound of the washing machine filling downstairs - how do you describe that? I am also listening for the sound of the key turning in the lock downstairs because my youngest daughter should be home from school soon. Shayne XXX

  2. It's really interesting Shayne, you think it is silent (eg middle of the night), but when you really listen there are always sounds around (eg distant roar of car or siren, night birds, bats flapping etc)

  3. I never have silence, I suffer from tinnitus so there is always noises in my head. LOL.

    But you're right Anita, just like us our characters need to experience sound, sight, taste, smell and touch. It is an important part of our writing and one that at times we forget. Well I do until I read my work back, LOL.
    Great post Anita.