Using the Five Senses to Show Rather Than Tell: HEARING

Do you hear me now?

I didn’t think so. It would help if I described the sound in a way that you could react to the noise as I did, almost as if you heard it for yourself.

Writing brings many challenges as to how you convey a story. Sounds can set the mood and feeling for a scene and give you a better feel for what the character is experiencing. There are a few ways I have found helpful to achieve this goal. The first is to pull down a thesaurus and find another word that makes a better sound.

I heard the car tires roll down the driveway.

Innocent enough… but very boring and it tells rather than letting you hear the sound. First off, lose the ‘I heard.’ Your readers don’t need to be told each and every time your ears pick up an important sound, especially if the sentence does the talking for you. The verb ‘roll’ is the problem child here. Grab the thesaurus to find a better word… Ah, found several.

The car tires rumbled as they moved across the gravel surface.

Yes, I can hear that.

A second technique with listening is to use a simile. The comparison should be something the readers most likely have heard for themselves.

The car tires sounded like small rocks tumbling down the mountainside.

Describing what you hear is an art. I have found myself listening to the sounds of my day and keeping a mental note of them to use in my writing. I’m always amazed at what I never heard before… The rhythmic ticking of a far away clock… The thump of the heater preparing to provide warmth to my house… The trash truck noisily clunking a block away as it makes its weekly rounds. And so on…

Stop and listen during your work and play one day. The sounds may end up in your next creative writing venture.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
This entry was posted in Editing, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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