Thursday Writing Prompt No. 131

I designed this cityscape using Deco Sketch on my Samsung tablet.

I designed this cityscape using Ben Guerrette’s Deco Sketch app on my Samsung tablet.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Thursday writing prompt. I’ve been caught up in work projects and just generally so busy that I’ve gotten away from the blog for a bit of a breather. I also think I really, really need a good vacation. And taking a day off work to stay home isn’t a vacation. There are still the dishes in the sink, the other household chores, and the incessant screeching of lawn equipment morning, noon, and night, seven days a week.

I want some down time!

And so, let’s write about sound for this week’s prompt. Take a look at my illustration above and imagine yourself in the city. Those loopy things  are supposed to be the arches of a bridge, and no, it’s not any particular city, so don’t look for a landmark.

Adding sensory details to your writing helps make the reader feel more immersed in your story’s world. But how do you describe sound? You can write about volume, for starters: loud, quiet. But those terms are so broad, and frankly, the words are kind of dull. To the thesaurus!

Synonyms for loud include fun words such as ringing and booming, which help describe what a noise sounds like. When a word imitates the sound it describes, that’s called onomatopoeia. Synonyms for quiet don’t really sound like anything. That’s kind of fitting, isn’t it? Muted, muffled, still, inaudible. If you can’t hear it, you can’t describe how it sounds.

Sound also has other qualities: pitch (frequency), tone, timbre, modulation. A shrieking ghost would emit a high-pitched sound, while a growling dog’s pitch would be a lower frequency rumble. Musical terms are good for describing sound (duh), but they aren’t necessarily common words or ones that a general audience would recognize. You’ll need to describe the sound rather than just give it an adjective, but learning the adjective and reading its definition will help you in that regard.

So, look at the cityscape above, and write a descriptive sentence or short paragraph describing the sounds (and maybe other sensory impressions) of the city. Don’t forget that atmospheric conditions affect sound. Have fun!

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