Don’t Snip the Onomatopoeia

Words are fun and can be even more so when they sound like what they are. These words can brighten a sentence and give the reader a clear image of what they are hearing or would be hearing if they were in fact part of the story.

I’m talking about onomatopoeia. An odd sounding word on it’s own that’s for sure.

Onomatopoeia is defined as the formation of a word such as Woof, Bang, Buzz, Hiss or Pop that are written as they sound. Or, the word itself sounds like the action or sound it is associated with.

We use these words everyday and they are easily found if you do a simple google search(opinions can somewhat vary). Words such as Pow, bang, thunk and pop became popular with comics and are still used for them. Words like moo, baa, ding, honk, chirp ect are often found in childrens stories, rhymes, songs etc.

Let’s see if I can put some in a bit of my story.

Amber who stood outside the office lost in thought, in memory of Friday. So far today she’d managed to avoid Scott.
Ahem.”

Amber looked up, frowned and reached out connecting her hand to Scott’s face with a smack.
His hand flew to his cheek as she took a step back. “I suppose I deserve that.”
“To say the least.” 
“I’m an ass, I’m sorry Amber please talk to me. Don’t run.”
She crossed arms and let out a huff. “Why should I?”
Scott jerked his head. “Look I know I crossed the line. It was wrong; I was wrong.”
“You scared the crap out of me Scott! You do realize I’m an emotional basket case right now. I don’t need you tearing me down or freaking me out.”
Scott scratched at his throat. “I know, I know, again I’m sorry. Look I’ll make it up to you. I was wrong. You know we’re friends and I got a bit messed up about some stuff.”
“Dale explained. Still…Why? Why did you attack me? It was like you wanted to…”
“I wouldn’t have actually forced you. I was upset and drunk and I’m sorry.” 
 Amber stepped forward glancing down and grimacing at the crunch of a snail beneath her shoe. She looked back up and narrowed her eyes at him. “Swear to me you’ll stop being weird, that you’ll never, ever again accuse me of lying about the baby. Swear you’ll never threaten or try to touch me that way again.”
“I won’t.” Scott ran his hand over his mouth choosing his words carefully. “It was a mistake I swear.” 
With a short sniff Amber nodded curtly. “Okay.” She gave him a pat on the arm and turned to go back inside missing the smirk on Scott’s face. 

I don’t know if I’d normally use so many since they would likely end up as more of an action word like smacked or crunched or whatever. But for this they worked okay. onomatopoeic words seem to appear more commonly in comic books, children’s stories, songs, rhymes or poetry. I think I’ll take a closer look at my action/violent scenes and see if any made their way in. If not i might add one or two.

What’s your favorite onomatopoeia word?

My advice about onomatopoeia.
They are fun and can be fun to use. I recommend giving them a try. If you have them leave them don’t snip them out or whoosh them away.

-Sheryl

Other posts I wrote sort of like this one

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Baby

Setting the mood

subdued

Setting the mood

There are moments in a story when a scene or scenario requires a little extra TLC. The moments when something important happens or the ‘mood’ needs to be established. As humans, we revolve around our emotions and associate certain things with strong emotions. These usually evolve into memory association or recall.

‘The taste of the fried battered fish brought back memories of Anne’s father. He backhanded her at the dinner table for chewing with her mouth open. No longer hungry, she ran her tongue over the old scar from where her tooth cut her lip.’

‘The sound of Brian Adams crooning about doing everything for you, made Sasha smile dreamily. The memory of her first kiss at the Jr. High dance consumed her for a moment.’

‘Sasha bounced on her feet as they entered the bustling stadium. The savory scent of hotdogs, popcorn and spilled beer reminiscent of her happiest day with her grandpa before he passed away.’

‘Goosebumps crawled up Anne’s arm as the silk scarf pulled through her hand. The last time she felt a scarf like this was when she was caught shoplifting as a young teen.’

Adding moments like these can help define my characters and their history. Where they happy? Miserable? Bad or rebellious? How does it affect or play on who they are today in my story. It’s like creating foreshadow without having to actually foreshadow. I would do this to offer some insight into why a character might be behaving or reacting a certain way. I might also do this to foreshadow a moment coming up that is likely a turning point for the character. The options are endless, basically a brief emotionally charged glimpse into their past via association.

This recall is fun to use. Writing a scene that is designed to become such a memory takes planning or at least the thought to use it again later to benefit the story. It could inadvertently happen too, but for me I try to wiggle things into what I’ve already written to jazz it up a bit.

Setting the mood is easy to do. You need a brief description of the setting, something of the five senses to tie the emotional response to and the actual act that brings it all together. Good or bad, scary or romantic, this is my chance to make a moment in time. Earlier I mentioned four of the senses, taste, sound, smell and touch. Without them there is no way to make this moment work.

Sasha sat on the dock dangling her toes into the cold water, the sound of loons calling in the distance danced with the sound of the lake water lapping the rocky shore.
“Long day huh?” Cal sat next to her dropping his own feet into the water.
She looked away from the subdued light glittering water to his face. Somehow even more handsome in the twilight. After nearly being shot and then attacked, her nerves were on edge. Yet Cal calmly saved her, took her away from it all and remained steady and calm.
“You can say that again.”
“Nah, I don’t like repeating myself.” His teasing tone eased her agitation, he turned to face her and she held her breath.
He was beautiful to look at in his rugged angles and strong features. The twilight erased all shadows except for his day’s beard growth. She looked at his soft lips as they moved forward and touched hers gently. His hand slipped behind her neck entangling his fingers in her hair. With her eyes closed all she could do was feel his warmth, taste cinnamon and hear nothing but wilderness around her.

 Later on when Sasha is once again in danger or at her ropes end I might bring something into the scene reminiscent of this one to remind her that someone cares for her, or is worth living/fighting for. Maybe the call of the loons or the subdued light of twilight will cause an emotional recollection and pull her from her misery or fear. Whichever it may be.

My advice about emotional recollection.
Whether it’s a memory moment to give the reader a glimpse into their past or a scene set to become one later tying emotion with senses and an important moment/action will strengthen your story and your readers attachment to it.

-Sheryl

Related posts

It’s not always the obvious choice

Hahaha oops.

Covered up with paint and lies.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Subdued

Good or bad, they are driven by passion.

Passionate is a powerful word. It evokes an immediate strong emotional association with whatever it’s used with.

I wrote a passionate character, she runs high on whatever emotion she is experiencing and is so driven she is exhausting to write. Her passion for success is equal to her passion to be kind and fair. She is funny and frustrating and a wild ride of emotions. Her evolution is difficult and gradual. I try not to have people switch personality or suddenly become someone their not with no reason. (There is nothing worse than a complete mysterious out-of-place personality overhaul, unless it’s purposeful)

I enjoy researching personalities (An ongoing study). When it comes to passionate people there needs to be balance. Most everyone is passionate about something, but not everyone is passionate about the same things. This is important and can open up all kinds of opportunity for friction, argument or even violence. It can also aid in the growth and development of a character, and it is important, but it has to be believable.

I think of it this way, someone with a passion thinks about it often, and will bring it up whenever possible. Not just because they want to share, but also because they get a high from talking about something that riles them up. Someone with something to look forward to is likely the person to jump out of bed early – bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the world. I make sure my character that is overly passionate gets excited easily, because that’s real.

Passionate people are emotional people it goes hand in hand. Whether they are passionate about books, cooking, sex, drugs, fighting crime or committing it. Passion doesn’t always mean good, there are some people that are passionate about being racist and bigots or causing pain.

Often a person who feels so strongly about something will live it fully, devoting their lives to whatever has them up early and shouting it to the world. They are risk takers, when driven they might do anything to keep their passion alive or achieve a goal. Maybe Joe steps on Sasha to get his dream job. That would create all kinds of drama.

Someone who is strongly attached to a passion can shut down just as easily as they are revved up. Especially when they are denied or fall short of their goal. This can spark a downfall or renewed determination. I use this as a great way to allow the character to soul search and grow into who I want them to become or switch gears. This is key because a person who is or has experienced the power of passion is usually someone who thinks positively. The go-getter or the one that doesn’t let others wallow in defeat. They want them to feel the joy they get so they are motivating.

Taking someone from a train wreck to successful leader cannot happen overnight. It can’t happen without ups and downs and it can’t happen without passion and drive.

On the flipside taking someone from an unnoticed-high-achiever to betrayer and ultimately enemy, takes finesse and a more subtle approach to their brand of passion to destroy or take over.

My advice about passionate characters.
There is a fine line between passionate and obsessive. My passions seep into my life they don’t control it. Take a look at people that are passionate and driven, are they awe inspiring or so annoying? Don’t forget they need contrast, the apathetic counterpart that inspires frustration.

-Sheryl

Oops! What did I just say?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Passionate