View Full Version : Sound effects

06-10-2007, 01:57 AM
I having problems with two sound effects. The first is the sound a siren makes. I have someone saying it, and I can't figure out how to write it. Ideas?

Second problem relates to this section of my WIP:

Using my crutches, I pull myself to my feet. God, that hurts. Slowly, I thrust the left crutch forward. Thud! Then I thrust the right one forward. Thud! I drag my feet across the floor. Scratch! Pain!

Thud! Thud! Scratch! Major pain!

Thud! Thud! Scratch! G******* m****** f****** pain!

I continue across the stage.I can live with the "thud" although I think there's something better out there. The "scratch' however, isn't working for me at all. She's basically dragging her feet across a wooden surface. How do I describe that sound?

Someone should invent a thesaurus for sounds.

Jim Clark-Dawe

06-10-2007, 02:37 AM
Hi jclarkdawe - On the siren, I think I've seen it written Whee-o, whee-o, whee-o. Of course, there's some difference in the way sirens sound now. Our fire department has one that makes a staccato type of noise at intersections.

On the crutch walking - the thud sounds pretty major for the sound of someone putting one crutch down - plunk would be closer in my opinion but I suspect there's an even better word. Two feet dragging across a wood floor - there would be some difference depending on the material her shoes are made of (or if she's in stocking feet). If the noise is gentle (stockings or bare feet) it might be a brush, if the shoes are tennis shoes it might be a swish, if the shoes are leather it might be a squeaky kind of noise. (And I want you to know I sat here and slid my feet across the floor and listened to the sounds.) Good luck! Puma

06-10-2007, 02:55 AM
I once heard someone describe European sirens as making this sound: Too late! Too late! Too late! (Though the words lose something without hearing how they were said, which was kind of sing-songy.)

Looks like the only thing I'd do to your sample, though, is italicize the sound effects so they're not confused with the rest of the text. Beware, though, oversuing such things to the point of goofiness. You're stuff could end up looking like the old Batman TV show. SOCKO! ZOWIE! BIFF! BAM!

That said...

...here's my SOCKO-ZOWIE! purpling of your prose...

Using my crutches, I pull myself to my feet, all creaky and poppy of bone and joint, squeaky-squeaky of aluminum frame, pins, screws. God, that hurts. Hiss of breath. From torn stitches seeps red, yellow, the odors of blood, bandages, hydrogen peroxide. Slowly, I thrust the left crutch forward. Pop of shoulder, rip of pain, thud of rubber-tipped peg. Then I thrust the right one forward. Pop! Thud! I drag my maimed feet across the floor. Skrrrup! Skrrrup! Pain again! Such pain as gods and devils could never conspire to afflict upon man, much less one.

Pop! Thud! Skrrrup! Thud! Skrrrup! Major pain! I have bitten through both of my lips.

Thud! Thud! Skrrrup! G******* m****** f****** pain! I would destroy the sun, would it but end such pain!

I continue across the stage.

I am more than gods. I am more than devils. I am... [whatever, whatever, whatever...]

06-10-2007, 01:33 PM
For sirens, kids round here usually go "Nee-naw, nee-naw!"

Bill Bailey, the comedian, has a bit about sirens in his show - he does a French siren with accordian accompaniment; "Hey, this is an emergency, but let's enjoy the ride."

Steve W
06-10-2007, 09:24 PM

I also tried a siren once, but my editor told me it didn't scan properly so I deleted it. Sounds are very tricky -- if they work, they really add to the piece, but if they don't, they'll crucify it and could ruin the read for the reader. Be careful.


06-10-2007, 09:28 PM
Just describe it as "she made a sound like a siren." and let the reader fill it in.