[Write On Wednesday] Sound

Last week’s prompt encouraged you to describe everything in terms of smell. It was tough, wasn’t it? But I’ll bet you discovered some things about your go-to style of description and how you could branch out a little.

This week is, I think, a little easier, focusing as it does on sound. It’s a sense that we often see represented on the page, but I’m going to encourage you to move beyond cliches like ‘rolling thunder’ and ‘the squeal of tires on asphalt’.

Man plays the trumpet Photo by Chris Bair on Unsplash

The Prompt

Your protagonist is hiding from someone. The stakes are high. They must not be discovered.


  • You might need to get a little method-actory-y here. Get yourself into an environment like the one you’ve put your character in and listen.
  • This might be a challenge if you’ve put them in a highly-populated restaurant while we’re stuck in lockdown, but there are soundscapes of all kinds on YouTube – here’s a bunch of coffeeshops, for example.
  • You might need to get a bit creative. If they’re on a spaceship, maybe go and sit in your car and start the engine, or drive around with the stereo off. What do you actually hear?
  • Try to move beyond the cliches. Does thunder really roll and clap? Is there any other way you could describe it? Where I live, August usually brings us some great storms. To me, the thunder sounds like someone ripping a huge length of fabric. Try to surprise your reader.
  • As the character moves through the scene, heighten the tension and reflect the changing way they feel but changing the kinds of language you choose for each sound they hear. If they’re relaxed and confident, a frog’s call might sound like a conspiratorial whisper. If they’re close to being discovered the same frog might startle them like a phone call at 4 am…

Again, if you end up liking the story you write you can always change some of the descriptors in the revision (so your reader doesn’t wonder if your character only has one sense!). 

If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!

Discussion: What did you learn about the way you write sound? Do you use it a lot? Was this a new experience? How hard was it to find new ways to represent everyday sounds?

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