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Calliea
06-14-2014, 08:01 PM
I'm drawing a blank at the stupidest thing. How to write down a scream, a yell of pain.

One that's not "Argh". That's too crude and battle-like I feel. "Ah", could sound like so many other things, on the other hand. Hmpf. Thanks.

DanielaTorre
06-14-2014, 08:09 PM
:gaah

Jazen
06-14-2014, 08:17 PM
Is the person 'saying' it or are you describing the sound they make?

To say the sound, ah, ow, argh come to mind. To describe it, anguished, blood-curling, gut-wrenching, those sorts of words pop to mind.

Helix
06-14-2014, 08:18 PM
It's difficult to do without it coming across as cartoonish. I'd take the easy way out and describe the effect of the scream on listeners.

Bufty
06-14-2014, 08:22 PM
All depends on the POV but try and avoid phonetics.

rainsmom
06-14-2014, 08:23 PM
I'd call it an anguished howl and let the reader fill in what that sounds like.

pannwright
06-14-2014, 08:42 PM
I agree -- describe the sound instead of trying to spell it out.

Calliea
06-14-2014, 08:44 PM
Hm, alright, I'll look for a way to make the description work instead of phonetics, I guess. Thanks.

Sage
06-14-2014, 08:45 PM
I agree about describing it instead of spelling it out.

Snowstorm
06-14-2014, 08:46 PM
I agree -- describe the sound instead of trying to spell it out.

Totally agree. Reminds me of one of CJ Box's novels (Joe Pickett series) where he described the sounds they were hearing as a rabbit being skinned alive. Now, that'll make the reader's skin crawl, and be much more effective.

jaus tail
06-14-2014, 09:07 PM
Describe other things. She grabbed the blanket...the sound that escaped the house reached two blocks away.

Brightdreamer
06-14-2014, 09:27 PM
Oh, it's easy. You need one hammer, one nail, and one friend. Invite the friend over, then nail their foot to the floor as they walk through the door. Hear that sound they're making? Try to describe that. (You nail them to the floor so they can't get away while you're working. Good writing takes time, after all. ;) )

If you're not willing to sacrifice a friendship for the sake of your art, then the other posters pretty much covered it: a phonetic spelling of a scream or overdramatic said-bookisms come across as amateur, so you're better off describing the noise and/or its effects.

rwm4768
06-14-2014, 09:33 PM
He let out an anguished scream.

He screamed in agony.

Calliea
06-14-2014, 09:36 PM
No, I've no issue describing the scream. It's just in that particular moment a phonetic would've fit better (1 "word" non-wordy finisher), but it seems that it's still not worth it :)

Bufty
06-14-2014, 09:36 PM
Two screams I'll never forget.

One was when my friend shotgunned a rabbit and then had to pick it up and chop the back of its neck. The other was when his dad was ringing a piglet's nose with pliers and a pointed metal ring.

In the former case the rabbit just lay there whimpering like a baby. The piglet, strung up by its hind teeth, set my teeth on edge with its high-pitched screams.

I wasn't expecting either sound and they stay with me at the back of my mind. Jobs have to be done, but needless to say, I've never shotgunned anything since nor ringed a pig's nose.

Blinkk
06-14-2014, 09:37 PM
It's difficult to do without it coming across as cartoonish. I'd take the easy way out and describe the effect of the scream on listeners.

I tend to take this route if I'm writing a scream. I describe it, not phonetically spell it because it does look a little amateurish. Besides, you can really get up close and personal with a character when it's being described. It's a great opportunity to add some character building. When a person's in pain, it's a very revealing time.

Ken
06-14-2014, 11:04 PM
YEOW ! or OUCH !

I've used both myself. Not to say you should.

Calliea
06-14-2014, 11:11 PM
I tend to take this route if I'm writing a scream. I describe it, not phonetically spell it because it does look a little amateurish. Besides, you can really get up close and personal with a character when it's being described. It's a great opportunity to add some character building. When a person's in pain, it's a very revealing time.

Aye, normally I completely agree, it's just in this case it's that last moment in a dream before someone wakes up. It's brief, there's no thought in it, it can be barely caught in the perception.

Still, I'd rather avoid amateurish, so... :<


YEOW ! or OUCH !

I've used both myself. Not to say you should.

Very non-dramatic :D Though your avatar might contribute to the feel, hah.

Jamesaritchie
06-14-2014, 11:53 PM
YEOW ! or OUCH !

I've used both myself. Not to say you should.

Well, "ouch" is actually a word, so I'm not sure it counts.

Jamesaritchie
06-14-2014, 11:55 PM
Two screams I'll never forget.

One was when my friend shotgunned a rabbit and then had to pick it up and chop the back of its neck. The other was when his dad was ringing a piglet's nose with pliers and a pointed metal ring.

In the former case the rabbit just lay there whimpering like a baby. The piglet, strung up by its hind teeth, set my teeth on edge with its high-pitched screams.

I wasn't expecting either sound and they stay with me at the back of my mind. Jobs have to be done, but needless to say, I've never shotgunned anything since nor ringed a pig's nose.

Better aim or bigger pellets. A shotgunned rabbit should be dead half a second after you pull the trigger.

frimble3
06-15-2014, 12:10 AM
I'm drawing a blank at the stupidest thing. How to write down a scream, a yell of pain.

One that's not "Argh". That's too crude and battle-like I feel. "Ah", could sound like so many other things, on the other hand. Hmpf. Thanks.
I think another problem with trying to phonetically spell out a sound is that people will 'hear' it differently when they read it. (Is that 'Aargh' frustration, a roar of pain or the pirate form of 'Eh'?) Sometimes, as a reader, I step out of a story to play with all the ways a 'sound' might be said, which is probably not good.

Orianna2000
06-15-2014, 02:06 AM
I could be wrong, but it sounds like you're maybe falling into the trap of describing a scene as if the reader is watching a movie. Novels are quite different from films--each has its own strengths and weaknesses. You shouldn't write a novel as if it's a screenplay, nor should you write a screenplay as if it's a novel.

I once beta-read for someone with a history of writing screenplays and it was obvious in their work. Their novel had lots of dramatic visuals, but very little of what makes a novel unique. In a novel, you have the rare opportunity to get inside the MC's head, to show what they're thinking and feeling, to explore their motivations, to experience things from their intimate perspective. Use this to your advantage! Don't visualize the story as if you're watching it from outside--that only distances the reader from the action. Instead, delve deep and show what happens from the MC's POV.

Is the MC the one screaming? Then perhaps end the scene with: "A scream tore from my throat." Or more succinctly: "I screamed." If the MC is hearing the scream from a distance, then maybe: "A scream ripped through the night, chilling my blood."

Hope this helps!

HapiSofi
06-15-2014, 02:47 AM
Two screams I'll never forget.

One was when my friend shotgunned a rabbit and then had to pick it up and chop the back of its neck. The other was when his dad was ringing a piglet's nose with pliers and a pointed metal ring.

In the former case the rabbit just lay there whimpering like a baby. The piglet, strung up by its hind teeth, set my teeth on edge with its high-pitched screams.

I wasn't expecting either sound and they stay with me at the back of my mind. Jobs have to be done, but needless to say, I've never shotgunned anything since nor ringed a pig's nose.
SQUICK!

Great demo, Bufty.

BethS
06-15-2014, 10:30 AM
I'm drawing a blank at the stupidest thing. How to write down a scream, a yell of pain.

One that's not "Argh". That's too crude and battle-like I feel. "Ah", could sound like so many other things, on the other hand. Hmpf. Thanks.

Personally, I wouldn't try to imitate the sound of it, which generally comes across as kind of silly. I'd just say the character screamed. Or I'd use a metaphor or simile to get the idea across.

Kallithrix
06-15-2014, 11:16 AM
I only use onomatopoia (which is what these all are, rather than just phonetic spellings) when it's kinda comic. Like... I dunno, saying 'My grandfather gronked' instead of he sneezed, coz that's what it sounds like, lol

When you're going for serious, they still come across as comical and tend to undermine the intended dramatic impact.

Ellis Clover
06-15-2014, 01:47 PM
He screamed.