Playing with your food: More fun with Onomatopoeia

(This article is part 2 of a series)

Back to “Argh!” or “Arrggghhhh!!!!!”:

You can make an Arrggghhhh!!!! sound much more frustrated by mixing it up a bit. Try this:


Although now we’re descending into the realm of sillyness, but it does kind of convey a blood-curdling (or at least, blood in the throat) scream filled with rage much more than even Arrggghhhh!!!!! does. The mixing of the g’s and the h’s swirl around as if one were gargling.

Here’s another trick I came up with a while back… How to make something sound as if it’s fading in:

He could hear it coming down the corridor towards him…

.         .        .       .    .   . .. ... .... ...t .thu thud thuD thUD tHUD THUD THUDD THUDDD THUDDD THUDDDDD

It helps if you can keep it to a single line, but it’s interesting how this works. The number of spaces between the initial period drops by one for each one, until there’s none left. Then we get more periods until we hit the length of the word… then the letters start coming in, in lower case. Then, the uppercase comes in (which always sounds like shouting anyway), and then finally, alliteration of the final letter of the syllable which gives the word THUD its … well... thuddy sound.

The cool thing is, done right, this will pretty nicely convey something getting louder – or nearer. Visually at first it’s all to do with the space. You could go further than this with a little typography – italics would help convey more of a silent sound (the font weight is lighter), from which you’d go to a normal font, and then to something bold, and finally, use italics again for stress. Eg:

thud thud THUD THUD THUD!

… but it doesn’t work quite so well straight; you’ll need to mix and match. In the above example, the italics give a sense of surprise – like the thud is off beat, or unexpectedly louder – not a fade in.

So in closing… play with your words. It’s fun :)

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

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