Editing Tip #88 – Evoking the Senses Pt.3: Sound

Whether you’ve taken extensive creative writing lesson and workshops or you’re doing your best to get by on the advice of blogs and writing magazines, the 5 senses will always be integral to flushing out a scene and bringing depth to writing that shows rather than tells its reader what is happening.

Photograph: Ben Andrew/RSPB

Photograph: Ben Andrew/RSPB

Previously I focused on SIGHT & TOUCH

Today we’ll place SOUND under the microscope.

Sound is the second-most forgotten about sense (tied with SMELL) when writing a first draft. Unless it directly links in with the plot, flushing out setting and atmosphere using sound rarely happens.

This is a tricky sense though – if overused it will do more harm than good which is another reason why writers often chose not focus on it.

You can’t let your fear of overdoing an aspect of your writing keep you from trying to better yourself and your work.

Remember, you have beta readers and editors for a reason – to help guide you through this stuff until you’re more comfortable dealing with it on your own.

Here is a perfectly legitimate description:

Jeremy leaned forward touching his nose to Sarah’s. She closed her eyes, not sure what to expect considering they could be discovered at any moment.

Now compare it to one utilizing sound:

Jeremy leaned forward, crunching small twigs under his knees. Touching his nose to Sarah’s his hot rapid breath eased with every passing second. She closed her eyes, not sure what to expect considering they could be discovered at any moment. The war waging inside her chest matched the scattered wing-beats of a flock of birds.

In the second example the tension between Jeremy and Sarah increases three-fold. Not only do we get a better sense of where they are (likely in a copse of trees, on their knees) but the urgency told to us about ‘being discovered’ becomes all the more palpable with the sound of his breath and a bunch of birds taking flight nearby.

Knowing that Jeremy’s breathing was laboured and now slowing down hints at either the two of them doing something they shouldn’t be doing or having recently run a distance and are now ‘hiding’. The fact that Sara notices this change in breath pattern shows just how much Jeremy’s nearness is affecting her. The birds taking off provide not only a great image for how Sarah is feeling but imply that someone else has likely made them take flight… DUN, Dun, dun.

So often when I read the work (often published already) of Indie Authors, subtle nuances like the variation above immediately announce to me whether or not that writer is interested in her craft or just in putting out another book because she can.

Honestly, if you love what you do then honing your craft to reflect the 5 senses will elevate the quality of your work and help raise the bar for Indie Authors. It’s not fair that such a stigma rests on self-published works, but it does because it is still the norm.

The best advice I can offer you is to challenge yourself and trust your writing/editing support system.

Happy Editing!

Creative PencilHave your work edited at a discounted rate for 1st time clients: Full Edit $3/300 words & Copy Edit .75c/300 words CLICK HERE for more details.

Categories: Editing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Sounds great advice to me πŸ˜€


  2. Thanks! I use sight a lot – am now going to build this one in now.


  3. I love writing that includes sensory detail. Sound and smell are often neglected even though they add such richness to a scene.


  4. Love this post. Terrific advice. Thank you. πŸ˜€


  5. Your statement concerning sound helped me to become “present” in the description of the couples encounter – thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: