How do you write a good sound?


I heard a motorbike blast past me as I was waiting for a bus and the sound that came out of that engine gave the feeling that it was a living being, and an angry one at that. That sound grabbed me and without even trying, had conjoured up images in my head of violent creatures and all kinds of possibilities. Maybe that just shows what I have on my mind more often than not?


That said, one of the real challenges I’m finding as a writer is the descriptions of things which could evoke such visceral sensations but which aren’t there to discuss. How do you write the call of a wounded Dragon? Is it sharp? Is it heavy? When a monster roars in defiance, how big is that roar? Can you touch it?


This is the direction I’ve come at things from. Rather than just relying on similie, ‘it hissed like a cat’ for example, I’ve tried to incorporate size, scale and sensation into the mix. ‘The bellow was felt more than heard, a thunderstorm calling a warning’.


All fantasy writers are dealing with the unreal and the task is to make the unreal real in the mind of the reader. I found quickly that I’d need to really work at the extras of a given situation, the sound of monsters, to keep the ‘reality’ of what I was trying to say. It’s good fun mind. You get to swim around in some very odd mental waters to be able to pull everything together.


For me, as a reader, those descriptions of that which isn’t there are so important but also so enjoyed. They help me feel the narrative. As a writer, they do much the same for anchoring characters but those descriptions are what I hold in my head when I’m thinking about them every day.


I hope that sounds about right.


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