>The Funny Things Writers Do

>Well, maybe I should retitle that: The Funny Things Compulsive Writers Do.

I’m rewriting the first chapter of my current WIP for the Daphne. My goal is to make the first scene heart-thumping, eerie, tense. My character hears a noise, one he knows is familiar but can’t immediately recognize.

The sound is the shuffling of a deck of cards.

I really had to think about how that would sound, because I didn’t want to **tell** the reader that’s what he heard. I wanted the reader to **hear** it.

(Trivia: This is a rhetorical device–ONOMATOPOEIA: the use of words that imitate the sound the word describes.)

That one description took me hours. I tried to imagine the sound. Then I searched out my daughter’s playing cards and shuffled them over and over.

When I still hadn’t found a satisfying description, I went online and hunted down some shuffling sound clips. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound over and over.

Still, I couldn’t get it right.

So, I enlisted my CP, Elisabeth, in the chore. (Thanks, E. You’re a good sport.)

It started with: Riiiiiiiip, whiiiiiiisp.

Which evloved into various posibilbities including: flaaaaaap, whiiiiiisp; fwaaaaaap, whiiiiiisp; fwiiiiiip, whiiiiiisp.

I closed my eyes and listened another dozen times. I said the words along with the sound to see if they fit.

And I got it: Thwaaaaaap, whiiiiiisp.

Let me tell you, listening to the sound clip of those cards shuffling in a quiet house was as eerie as I thought it would be. I only hope I conveyed that adequately in my WIP.

You try it.

Go to: http://www.pdinfo.com/sfxM2H/Games.htm. At the bottom of the page, listen to the shuffling clips (use the right listen link if you have Windows, the left if you have Mac) and tell me how you think that sound would be portrayed in the glorious written word.

What extremes have you gone to for that “just right” element in a book?