Sounding Your Story Hmm… what does sounding your story mean exactly? There are a couple of ways I could go with this but I choose to go with the idea of putting sound into a story. A story that has no sense of sound can be sterile and dull.
Jimmy scurried about picking up the papers that were due on his boss’ desk at 9:00. When he glanced at the grandfather clock it showed 8:25. Damn, he was going to be late – again.
The slow click-clop of the grandfather clock’s pendulum mocked Jimmy as he scurried about picking up the papers that were due on his boss’ desk at 9:00. Through the open window, he heard distance sirens, warning him traffic might be heavier than normal. He glanced at the antique clock, it showed 8:25. Damn, he was going to be late – again.
Which of the two passages above do you find more interesting? The first while conveying what the reader needs to know seems dry. The second tells more of the story. The “slow click-clop” adds a new dimension to the passage – the clock is marking the passage of time. “Sirens in the distance,” adds the idea there is a world outside his little environment that he must contend with. In this case, he suspects traffic is going to be slower than normal. This gives a strong motivation for his next action, “He glanced at the clock.”
Janice stepped onto the ice. It cracked and caused her heart to skip a beat. She could hear that thing behind her. There was no choice. It was coming. She had to keep moving.
Janice stepped onto the ice. Her weight caused crunching crackling sounds beneath her foot that sounded as if they ran in every direction. Her heart skipped a beat. Behind her, she could hear that thing’s heavy footsteps grinding on gravel and tree limbs breaking as it pushed through the undergrowth. There was no choice. It was coming. She had to keep moving.
Adding some of the sounds Janice is hearing, multiplies the intensity. It adds another layer of fear –a bigger fear than that of walking out on thin ice. We don’t know what pursues her only that Janice feels compelled to keep moving. Even though we have the sense she feels fear, nowhere in the passage is that word used. Silence may be golden, but life is not silent. Things don’t happen in a vacuum. Bring the sounds of life into your work.
Write a couple of paragraphs about an overworked mom. Bring in the sounds of her everyday life that emphasize and show what she feels without using any words to tell us which feelings she experiences.