SPARKS Sound effects

In the fourth set of quick creative prompts, K. M. Lockwood keeps her ears pinned back . . . 

Hearing has a profound role in storytelling. The rhythm and music of syllables are fundamental to the spoken word. It also has an effect on illustration - where would sharing a picture book be without it?

For the writer, portraying sounds has two main purposes:

1. In scene setting, it deepens the mood for the reader. Entering a building full of creaks and whispers is quite distinct to one full of laughter and footsteps.

2. When conveying action, especially sudden events, it can signal the impact in the way sound effects are used in films.

Here are some creative ideas for both words and pictures (pun intended).


Sit still in a room by yourself (if possible) and just listen for a few minutes.
What do you hear close by?
  • from your own body
  • in the space with you
  • anything mechanical?
  • what about living things?
Try further away in the building, and outside:
  • people, pets, wildlife
  • plants, trees,
  • traffic
  • weather
List what you hear in words and/or pictures. Use onomatopoeia and/or make up your own

Shush, Bang, Skrike

What colour/shape/pattern are they? Might leaves rustle with bright spiky edges? Could a squelch be a green-brown splodge? Does a hum have wiggles on it?


Can you group them by, say, Nice/Neutral/ Nasty or order them Loud → Quiet
Would you prefer a Sound Wheel, or a Spectrum of Noises – with colours and shapes and patterns?


Pick a place you know/can imagine well.
Use sounds to describe it in two or more different moods: frightening, excited, sad, celebratory . . .

NB if you need a soundscape for your work or to block noise, try

Header image credit:  engin akyurt on Unsplash
K. M. Lockwood loves stories full of folklore, fantasy and fairytale influences. Happy hours are spent reading, editing and reviewing them – and writing her own in Tales from the Garret.
Twitter: @lockwoodwriter

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