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How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago

(Actual Title: How to Indicate and Appropriate Use of Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia))

Essentially, the title. How would you indicate sound in writing (onomatopoeia words such as meow or roar)?

Would you italicize the word?:

Beep

In addition, when would an onomatopoeia word be suitable for use in writing a story, if at all? Can it be used sparingly in a "serious" (as in not trying to be comical or silly) story, or would that simply be intrusive and actually describing the sound be a better alternative at all times? Can it be used in a more casual story, or would it be the same as in the serious story?

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago
Commended by JJJ-thebanisher on 1/19/2017 11:47:15 PM

Weird, they had this topic over at CoG not long ago. (Barely got any attention since it didn't involve the fascinating topic of the use of proper gender sounds or something)

If it's a humorous/casual story, you can use them all you want for the most part.

I think you can get away with it a little in certain places in a serious story like if it's the phone ringing or something else inanimate making a sound that the protagonist is reacting to (or will be reacting to)

I wouldn't use "Roar" for a lion though. I'd probably just say "The lion roars at you." Even with the cat and "meow" I probably wouldn't write a separate meow sound either. I'd probably be more inclined to use "meow" as dialogue for the cat that its crazy owner is talking to if anything.

The stuff like KABOOOOM! also gets a little too comic book like.

And yeah, I think italitcizing or bolding the words helps if you are insisting on doing it at all.

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago

Yeah. That KABOOOM!! was hilarious, and even as End describes it above, it seemed wrong in context with his explanation. Like, "The stuff like KABOOOOM! also gets a little too comic book like," just seemed wrong even as an explanation. So yeah, agreed. xD (My explanation was horrible."

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago

Thank you for the answers and advice!

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago

Italicizing sounds about right. You could also use quotes, such as; The clock landed on the carpet with a "thud". Do try to keep it consistent though. If you use italicizing in one sentence to show your sounds, don't switch over to quoted in the next sentence.

When would an onomatopoeia be appropriate in a story? It depends on the mood you're trying to fit, and which sound you're using. I mostly use onomatopoeia in my poems. They can be used in a "serious" story, but I prefer to use similes and metaphors to describe my sounds instead of onomatopoeia.

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago

Thank you for the answers and advice! I probably won't use quotes for sounds, especially if dialogue is present, since it seems it would be a bit confusing to distinguish the two.

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago
I wouldn't use quotes for anything but dialog and to indicate sarcasm or nomenclature and the like.

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago
I'd agree with the idea that they can be used in humorous or comical stories. In more serious stories I think a more accurate description might work better: "The cat meowed" would make more sense than "Meow" to me.

The same with "beep." I think there's a big difference between:

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

And "The computer emitted an annoying beeping sound that kept repeating itself over and over again, demanding the attention of someone, anyone, to attend to its needs."

How to Indicate Sound in Writing? (Onomatopoeia)

5 months ago

I appreciate the feedback!