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Sunday, August 2, 2009

What's That I Hear?

My almost five year old son (don’t call him four) has been obsessed with listening to a book on tape about a blind girl named Angel. The book explores how Angel uses sound to help navigate her way. Of course, my son has had many questions about how sound can be used to aid people, especially those that can’t see. How does Angel know which one is her best friend’s house or how does she know which way is the school cafeteria?
This immediately got me thinking about writing and how in order to create the whole scene for readers, authors need to make use of all the senses, not just sight. Sound is so important in drawing the reader in. It’s one thing to visualize the main character slamming on the car brakes at the last second but to really hear those brakes screech, takes the story to another level. Just like the other senses, sound helps you feel a part of the story. It’s not enough to hear the characters talking to each other, we also need to hear the sounds that go on around them.
Are their five hundred screaming fans in the bleachers or is the tennis match drowned out by the ambulance racing down the street? Were the arguing parents in the next room so loud that even the TV can’t mask their fighting? Next time you read a book, think about how the use of sound helps make the scene richer, more believable.
I decided to make a list of five of my favorite sounds and five sounds that I could live without.

Five Sounds That I Love:
1. My baby cooing
2. My boys giggling
3. Pouring rain
4. The overhead fan on high when I go to sleep at night
5. The whooshing sound of the wind racing between the trees in my backyard

Five Sounds That Make Me Cringe:
1. People chewing with their mouths open
2. Nails across a chalkboard
3. Screaming
4. Balloons popping
5. When a person rubs their fingers back and forth on a napkin

Hope you’ll share some of your favorite and least favorite sounds with me too! What is that I hear, my baby crying?


ReggieWrites said...

I love the sounds of pouring rain too!
I hate when forks and spoons rub against each other...the sound makes me go ballistic! haha :-)

Reggie :-)

Jan Blazanin said...

It's hard to teach beginning writers to use other senses besides sight in their descriptions. But sound is one of my favorite senses to use in setting a scene. The sound of pouring rain must be a favorite, because I love it, too. I don't mind thunder, either, but it makes my dogs freak out!