Yesterday we talked about settings in terms of our sense of sight. Today, let’s turn our attention to a slightly under-used sense: HEARING.
What kinds of sounds are present in your setting? This could be music, speech, ambient sound, or even deliberately irritating noise.
Let’s start with music. Writers often like to work music into their novels, whether to set the mood or to use lyrics as a kind of shorthand for how their characters are feeling. Music can help readers quickly understand where these characters are coming from – but they also have to recognize the music being described, in order to make those connections.
I usually try to avoid using lyrics in my stories (mostly because this is a great way to get sued by whomever wrote those lyrics, if used without permission!), but you can use song titles with abandon. Those aren’t under copyright, so you can name drop them as much as you like.
If your story takes place in a record store or bar, where music is typically playing, you may feel more inclined to try to set the mood with music in other ways. You can try to describe the rhythms or the instruments, or even give a nonsense-word approximation of how the song sounds to you.
What other sounds should you include in your setting?
Any spoken dialogue, of course, is an important sound. (That’s actually a whole other blog post!)
Ambient sounds are also great for setting the mood. Things like a kettle whistling, or the scratch of a pen on paper, or the general murmuring of conversations in a café are all considered ambient sounds. Animal sounds, such as loons crying on a lake, can also qualify.
Deliberately irritating sounds might also be important to your story. Think about honking car horns, or children screaming. Do these sounds affect your characters, or are they typically tuning them out?
Start to describe some of the sounds in your setting, and see what kinds of interesting ideas begin to develop!
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Fill in the same info for one of YOUR settings, post it on your blog, and be sure to use the hashtag #Preptober on social media so we can find each other.
Don’t forget to grab a free copy of my Preptober Prompts Printable, which you can print out for personal use.
See you tomorrow with a new prompt!