The Sound of Details: Background Noise to the Story

New Forest
Image by Frenkieb via Flickr

My recent trip made me very aware of how much sounds are part of the surroundings in a given place.

For instance, the sounds of a pub in southern England are much different than a bar in southern California.  People sit around at tables for the most part.  They have conversations.  If sports are on the television the sound is off.  Mostly the room is filled with conversations.  The same is true outside in the courtyard which may also have underage children and dogs around the table.

From the notebook:

The cricket game in the middle of New Forest: the bat hitting the ball, appreciate cheers from the onlookers, encouragement from teammates, and a general muted conversation when it was time for a tea break.

The morning greetings at the outdoor patio of the café where people stop on their way to the patisserie or the butcher or the vegetable sellers—or all three—to have some coffee and conversation.

Early bird photographers chatting away inside the blind at the parc ornithologique.  The sounds drifting over the still water.

It’s 8:20 in the morning.  The first busload of teenagers cluster in groups outside the gate of the college to chat and flirt before school starts.

In France at 22:30 (10:30 PM) two seventy-year-old women stroll home chatting as they walk.

22:00 The lone skateboarder’s wheels roll back and forth with an occasional flip inside the paved fish market almost every night.

In your narrative fiction be sure to include the sounds of the setting as your scene progresses.  They add color and verisimilitude to your scene.  Sounds can also work as plot devices.  Don’t forget to overlook them as you are writing.

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