Whether you’re a fiction writer or professional editor, this series is for you!

Sound creates an atmosphere, it’s an element that can stimulate our minds. It feeds our imagination and it certainly brings memories to anything that we can relate to. We know how sound is very important in describing in our books. This new installment tells you how you can make the ‘sense of sound’ memorable and how we should be using and implementing this type of sense.

Discover how to use the element “Sense of Sound” in a story to improve your writing now.


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Transcript with Kristina Stanley

JoEllen: Welcome back to Publishing Power! My name is JoEllen and I am here again today for the 38 story elements with Kristina Stanley from Fictionary! Welcome Kristina!

Kristina: Good Morning JoEllen! So, we’re moving right along last sweetly covered smell as part of this setting story elements, we all know there’s 38 Fictionary story elements so I don’t know what number we’re through but we’re getting there.

And today we’re going to cover using sound to make the reader hear what your character’s hearing.



Use sound to make the reader hear what your character’s hearing.

JoEllen: That’s great! And so we’re going to talk about the sounds and how we use them in every single scene of our writing.. Not just the general but you’re making sure you’re including all of those senses again and again and again so I’m going to let you start by telling us how we can make our scene better by using sound in our writing.

Kristina: Yeah! So, first thing is sound creates atmosphere and it does it really quickly so let’s look at… You know jaws *sound effect* We all know that sound right! OK I’m going to be eaten and I was terrified when I was I don’t know young teenager when that came out to swim in my lake ’cause I could hear that sound like there is a short leg the atmosphere so it’s a little harder in a book to do it than a movie where obviously you’re, you’re really hearing it but even when you’re writing your novel you can still use sound to add a layer of depth to your description and it’s called audible imagery.

You can show locations with sound so instead of me telling the reader where a character is, you could say you know raindrops coming pavement will tell your reader that the character is outside perhaps in an urban setting, but you get a much better feel just by the sound without saying they’re standing on pavement.

Right and everybody can feel raindrops hitting pavement and so it you not only hear you concealing of which feeds and uncomforted and that kind of thing.

Let’s talk a little bit about you know when you want to use. So sound is great at the beginning of a scene. You can use it to anchor location and and that’s a helpful way without saying my reader standing outside on the table you can give it a nice little… You can use it when something is important to a character. Now I always go back to dogs, so a dog trainer is going to be tuned into hearing barking and so that’ll be a sound that they know is. Right? Where a cat person might not notice a dog barking or maybe they find it really irritating where a dog trainer is intrigued by because they want to understand it so he can tell you a lot about your character just by what sounds they pay attention to.

JoEllen: And what it stimulates in their mind and if you can connect those two it lets you know the character a little deeper.


Sound triggers back story.

Kristina: And there it is right back to let’s link the story element so a sound can trigger a flashback. It can trigger back story. It can trigger an emotional reaction. It can, you know help or hinder the POV character getting their goal because now they’re on a different track. It can really show emotion so if you think of a character hiding in an empty building and the power’s off… The villains looking for them, that character is going to be listening for any noise and helps them determine where they’re doing it, they’re gonna cheat on everything else and that’s their main aim for main focus and then here comes the twist they hear something they don’t expect.

Right? So right there you are you’re adding pacing you were speeding it up by having the character really in tune to what the hearing or not hearing.

JoEllen: Sounds good! OK, so we know how to enhance it, we know how important sound is, as you’re talking about this. I just listen this podcast the other day about the most known sound in the world especially after Corona is *sound effect* and you know what I’m talking about as soon as I say I don’t have to say it you know *sound effect* and there was a whole podcast about how it was created what is made from. Like that’s a perfect example of sound and how it stimulates a feeling and direct reaction, an emotion… It’s like pavlov, we don’t start ruling but…

Kristina: Absolutely!


What are the pitfalls?

JoEllen: What are the pitfalls? You know, how do we connect it? How do we make sure we’re doing good? And it’s really popular and positive to our characters versus something that make actually great for the writer and reader.

Kristina: And that’s a great lead in because it’s such a short sound, right? It’s just there so filtering is a common mistake that happens with sound and what it means is you’re adding extra words around the sound so my back dog examples she heard the dog bark, OK, versus the dog barked, short we now… so we’re in this characters POV we know she heard it because you put it in the scene the dog barked and so you can shorten right down pick up the paper saying the reader is going to feel like they heard the dog bark versus sugar in the dog bark and the other thing that helps with course is pacing is now it’s much faster if you’re just rolling through in your part of the scene and so it it feels much faster.

Want to make the same comment that I made with smell is that sound has to be familiar to reader so if you’re describing something really unique, you need to make sure we do add extra words for what that sound is because you really don’t want your reader to go have to look at that and it’s very easy to do or with Kindle, you can click it, list, let me read this and get interested in something else because you’re learning a new word and you don’t know what that sound is.

JoEllen: Yeah, that’s true. It’s just it’s too easy to be drawn away and it’s making sure that you give everything that’s necessary there, but it actually adds without overloading can we say because quite often when we’re editing, we see that there’s just too much description and if it takes that much to describe it can you just change it? and she just do it better?


What are we going to do today about sound, as one of our sensors..

So again, that’s very much part of it. So, we’re going to go through all of our scenes as we do every week… What are we going to do today about sound, as one of our sensors and of course we can do sight, sound, smell, and all those back on the same time. But what specificity sound.
So, specificity sound is going to back up to what you said of just do it better. Right? It seems so simple, just do it better. But how do you do it better?

So, when you’re reviewing your sound… So, one, you know on a scene by scene adding, you’re keeping track of all your sounds that you’re using and I think you’re just working used sound, tracker specific sounds. Just do it better when you’re keeping track of everything about did you use for writing or in your sound so you’re writing a dog a book about dog training or you just only using barking? There are so many other sounds a dog makes that you know need to look is their variety.

And also that when you use a sound think about other different words you can use for that sound so that it’s not it’s not repetitive, you keep it interesting, can we use an active sound versus passive sound? And so study your sounds and think about what you want the reader to experience and how quickly they can expect.

JoEllen: But so it’s always about I mean it’s about readers impact, or readers experience and to make sure that it’s there. Very nice! Very nice! So again, we’re going through all the senses and how they’re being used in these scenes as part of the 38 story elements of self-editing and editing as professionals and we just want to thank you all for joining us today and if you like this share it with your friends so that we can all become better writers in the world. Thanks for joining us again today Kristina.

Kristina: Thanks, JoEllen, talk to you soon!

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