Writing Sound

Today we have an exercise in sound. Now, there are several ways to incorporate sound in your writing; by way of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, etc. In my opinion, I lean towards using similes or metaphors more often than onomatopoeia because I find that onomatopoeia tends seem more childish, the clock goes tick, the horse says neigh, the horn went honk. I think that if you want to use words that mimic their sound, the sentence has to be a bit more complicated. When your sentence is more complicated and uses more educated words, certain onomatopoeic words blend well and add that sound effect the writer is looking for. I still think when I see something like:

Crash! The car skidded into the power box and sparks illuminated the hood in brilliant flashes.

sounds a little young, simply because of “Crash!” I think the writer’s goal is to surprise the reader and by making a one word sound/action it hooks the reader, but from a readers stand point I think a little bit more subtle hits me harder and grabs me. Instead try:

That’s when they crashed. The car skidded into a power box and sparks illuminated the hood in brilliant flashes.

It’s a statement and although the reader will take more time allowing the to figure it out before they finish the sentence, it works to build tension.

In other cases onomatopoeia works very well. You could argue that “skidded” from that sentence is onomatopoeic, the skid mimicking the tire vibration when the car slides and in this case it serves the sentence very well. Other not quite so blatant words like “plop”, “giggle”, and “sizzle”, when used well transform the mundane sentence into a well rounded sensory expirience.

But in no sentence does the word “buzz” belong.

Do you know of any instances where an onomatopoeic word worked well, or did not work at all?

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Improper Words

Today’s writing exercise is a mind workout. It’s a simple process, that for me really opens my mind to new word choice possibilities.

Here we go:

  • First grab a dictionary.
  • Flip to any page you want.
  • Randomly choose a word from the page.
  • Now, use the word in a sentence, but change the part of speech it normally is to another one. So, if the word is a noun, use it as an adjective, or a preposition.
  • Do any part of speech, but try to maintain a similar meaning or at least a meaning you would expect that word to have in the new form.

Colors are a good example. You hear about a leaf greening, or a face yellowing, what would be oranging?

How about the sun oranging the street?

What about the word corolla – a noun meaning the petals of a flower?

What if a building had no windows on the first floor, but the higher up you looked the more windows there were and the tighter together they were built? What if they seemed to curve together and make up the whole top of the building. Could the windows be corolla windows?

Not only is it a word that evokes specific imagery but the vowels smooth over from one word to another. Corolla windows.

Words are limitless.

I always joke with Justin that my English degree certifies me to change the language at my will.

The truth is (I love this topic, if you can’t tell) language changes by anyone’s will.

Obviously, I think there is importance in the proper way of writing and using the language -proper spelling, grammar and all that, but I think about how fun it is to manipulate the language as well and really-how important it is too. Creatively changing the language to meet the needs of a writer wanting to express a very specific idea makes using words in uncommon ways important, as an exercise of the creative mind and a practice for writers pushing envelopes like e.e. Cummings and Shakespeare.

What are some of your favorite uncommon, improper uses of words?

 

Also, check out a review for my poetry collection by Michelle Proulx! A big thank you goes out to her for reading and letting people know about it.

Some Axel, Some Writing and Some Frosty!

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Today I have a couple things for you.

First off this picture of Axel, he is such a monster.

Second a fun little exercise to get that pen moving!

In stories, many characters have something very particular about them, a signifier. It’s something that reminds the reader who they are or what they do. As I was reading some Stephen King I realized how often he uses these signifiers as character names. “The Yellow Card Man” from
11/22/63 never had a name, he was just always the yellow card man because of the yellow card on his hat. By naming him only with his signifier King accomplishes several things; the reader never has to try to remember who the yellow card man is, the reader gains a very distinct image of the character by one phrase and the author cuts out a lot of descriptive language otherwise used to tell the reader more about the character.

I’m not sure whether it’s the choice of names or the contents of the books, but I always get the “vibe” of the character, and usually it is not nice, but really adds a richness to the text. So, for tonight choose a character and replace their name with a solid signifier.

In my book right now I use the name “red hard hat” for a fireman. The character who sees him is a little boy and he does not initially realize that it is a fireman. Giving the term I add some liveliness to the word choice and still tell the reader what is going on in the story.

I’m excited to use this method as a way to continue bringing life to the characters without paragraphs of detail that would otherwise be lost within words.

Lastly, a tiny rant for the day!

I have yet to use a very awesome free Wendy’s frosty card! Glad it’s free frosties for a year and its only February!

A Poem to Read

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share another poem with you guys. This one is from about 4 or 5 years ago, and although my style has refined and changed in the last few years it holds a lot of similarities to my current trends in writing.

This poem follows an exercise you may be familiar with, known as the cut and paste or the black out. In this exercise you take a couple different forms of writing, things very different from each other (like a garden magazine and news article), for this I chose a Game Informer Magazine and an article about customs in Mexico. After all the editing, I think the article vanished from the poem, but I kept the tie with the article in Game Informer tight. It’s easy for one piece to overshadow the other, but I think what this exercise is supposed to help do is bring together words you wouldn’t naturally think go together and inspire you to use words in unexpected ways. On one level, I do not think this exercise was successful. I did not meld the two writings together in a way that takes the reader away from both and into something new. However, I think the words I have chosen to put together are interesting and create a story of their own. It has bits that I love and bits that I think still do not work well, but I like the rhythm and the energy, the mystery and the journey and I hope you like it too.

Dear GI

From day and back
No checkpoints
The recent forgettable years.
Remember:
the mind is an untold legend.

A player, stunning,
Far to endure the fight.
Determine
your great hunger.
Page your overlooked
Release
The true.

Yet enter the interest,
my decided Wanderer.
The thoughts, though never the same, have us related.

You will climb a vast city,
The darkness receding before you
To see beyond the flesh and bone
Beyond the sickness that ravages within.

A few first falls
and familiarity forms.
You will hone a finer final force.

You will learn
Warned seals blaze madly
And
Worn fields grace you sadly.

Command and
Conquer
Touch Oblivion.

Facing yourself
Trace your memory.
Captivating
Challenging your
Longest Journey.

Of Shadow Hearts and
Phantasy.

Embrace a horrible ending.

For you are:
Landstalker, Wanderer.