Adding Sounds to Scenes is a Sound Practice

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I finished reading Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. I have AND will highly recommend it to anyone who dabbles in fiction. It’s one of the best “how to” books I’ve ever read.

—Marsha Hubler, Director Montrose Christian Writers Conference

See more about Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days at the end of the post.

Writers know how important it is that their characters use their five senses in stories. Last month, I spoke about scents and tastes. Today, we’ll focus on sounds. Unlike scents and tastes, sound verbs and types seem to be limitless.

Creating Words for Sounds

Some readers enjoy a created word for a sound, such as ba-lop. Other readers dislike this practice and prefer writers use the commonly accepted words for sounds, such as bang. You or your publisher may have a preference as to whether you create the sound in a scene, use a commonly accepted word, or tell the sound.


Casey ran full speed toward Sam. Ba-lop! Sam looked up from the ground, trying to regain his breath. “Why … did … you … tackle me?”

Casey ran full speed toward Sam. Bam! Sam looked up from the ground, trying to regain his breath. “Why … did … you … tackle me?”

Casey ran full speed toward Sam and collided with him in a loud thud. Sam looked up from the ground, trying to regain his breath. “Why … did … you … tackle me?”

Whether a commonly used sound is listed in dictionaries varies among dictionaries. One dictionary had bang but not bam. Another dictionary included both.

If I make up a word for a sound, I treat it as if it’s an uncommonly encountered foreign word. I write it in italics the first time I use the sound.

Types of Sounds and Examples

I’ll leave spoken words and interjections to dialogue and concentrate on other sources of sounds.

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  • Engine: rasped, grated, clanked, purred, rattled
  • Liquid: splashed, dripped, plunked, babbled, crashed
  • Vocal: bawled, giggled, mumbled, chattered, blubbered
  • Walking: crunched gravel, swished through leaves, stomped, padded, shuffled
  • Air or Breathing: belched, gasped, swooshed, coughed, wheezed
  • Animal and insect: buzzed, hissed, whinnied, fluttered, woofed
  • Metallic: clanged, clinked, dinged, clanked, pealed
  • House: creaked, squeaked, groaned, shutters flapped, chinked
  • Hushed: sighed, whispered, fizzed, whirred, shushed
  • Rhythmic: puttered, rat-tat-tatted, pitter-pattered, trilled, clip-clopped
  • Staccato: hail stones pinged, popcorn popped, the alarm bleeped, stiletto heels tapped
  • Continuous or lengthy: rumbled, moaned, boomed, droned, yowled

For more example of sounds, ask online for examples in the above types of sounds.

Examples of Verbs That Introduce Sounds

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  • Emitted
  • Blasted
  • Sounded
  • Echoed
  • Reverberated
  • Discharged
  • Emanated
  • Expelled
  • Issued
  • Radiated
  • Released
  • Sent
  • Spewed
  • Transmitted
  • Thrummed
  • Wailed
  • Screamed
  • Roared
  • Clashed
  • Spattered

Examples of Sound Adjectives

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  • Raucous
  • Brassy
  • Whiny
  • Dulcet
  • Lilting
  • Musical
  • Deafening
  • Piercing
  • Sharp
  • Blaring
  • Muffled
  • Rustling

What are sounds you use for cooking?

Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries

The Best Writing Advice Ever

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My guest today is Lillian Duncan, a bestselling author and finalist in the Carol Awards. Please see more about her latest release, Trapped, after her post. And don’t miss her two giveaways. See details below.


Lillian: I love being able to say, “I’m a writer!” I used to say it but wasn’t sure if I believed it myself. After more than twenty books and being on the Amazon bestseller list, I believe it!

Best Advice

The first and best advice I got on becoming a writer was …. drumroll, please … write every day! I know some writers live by that advice and others don’t. As for me, I don’t believe my latest book, TRAPPED, would exist if I hadn’t lived by that advice.

That may sound melodramatic, but I think it’s true.        

For many years, I wrote every day—no matter what happened. OK—I didn’t write when I took vacations but that was about it. The result of that is that it became a habit. A very good habit!

The Habit

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Writing every day keeps my creative juices flowing.

Writing every day keeps me sane—even when insane things are happening.

Writing every day deepens my commitment to writing.

Writing every day keeps the story moving forward.

Habits During Struggles

In 2011, I finally got my first traditional book contract. In 2012, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. I won’t go into all the gory details, but life got rocky for me. Very rocky. 

But a habit is a habit and so I kept on writing, not every day but certainly every other day.  It wasn’t easy. Some days I could only write for ten minutes, other days maybe thirty. But each of those ten-minute sessions added to the story … until the story was finished.

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I submitted to my publisher. While I waited to hear if it was accepted, I kept writing. Because after all, a habit is a habit. By the time I knew that story had been accepted, I was well into writing another story.


And because a habit is a habit, I kept writing story after story after story. And they kept getting accepted and published. 

I really believe that if writing every day hadn’t become a habit, I really would have given up when I was struggling so much because of the brain tumors. During that time, I invented what I call The Twenty-Five Word Club.

I made a commitment to write twenty-five words every day toward a new story. Anybody has time to write twenty-five words, no matter how busy you are. Even when you don’t feel good, you can muster up enough energy to write twenty-five words.

Some days, twenty-five words were about all I could do. But then, there were the other days when I might write a hundred or even a thousand.

Anybody want to join The Twenty-Five Word Club?

Lillian’s Giveaways

To celebrate the release of TRAPPED, I’m having a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card as well as a choice of one of my books (e-book only). To enter CLICK HERE.

One more lucky winners will win A $25 Amazon Gift Card on my website. To enter, go to and leave a comment under the TRAPPED Giveaway Post. 

Angelina Matthews has everything—rich, famous and beautiful—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a T-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God. 

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman.

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped. 

As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still.

But are they delusions?

Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word. Her goals is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit as well as her devotional blog at