A Guide to Using Sound


Do your descriptions need invigorating? Have you been looking for that word that would exactly caption that action? I’ve done the work for you! I have brainstormed and compiled lists of some of the most useful sound words and categorized them for your use.

If you’re looking for other sensory guides, check out our Guide to Scents to help you add delicious dimensions to your writing. 


Walking / Running

clem-onojeghuo-199205Usually you’re taking three things into account when writing movement that involves feet: the ground material, the components touching the ground (materials of shoes, paws, bare feet), and the speed/weight of the movement.

  • Crunch
  • Pop
  • Tap
  • Clump
  • Grind
  • Splurch
  • Splash
  • Smack
  • Crackle
  • Thud
  • Click
  • Snap
  • Pad
  • Patter
  • Rap
  • Clang
  • Pound
  • Rustle
  • Swish
  • Splat
  • Clatter
  • Ring
  • Crash
  • Thump
  • Clank
  • Clack
  • Thunder
  • Clop
  • Slap
  • Rat-a-tat



When writing these sounds, take into consideration the materials of the door/lid/wrapper, what its opening/closing mechanism is, and the weight, speed, and force with which it is being moved. For more options, read through the Walking / Running list as well.

  • Screech
  • Squeal
  • Thunk
  • Groan
  • Creak
  • Clink
  • Flop
  • Scrunch
  • Squeak
  • Boom
  • Scrape
  • Clap
  • Chink
  • Scratch
  • Bang
  • Clunk
  • Slam
  • Swish

Air / Water Movement


  • Hiss
  • Whisper
  • Rattle
  • Wheeze
  • Buzz
  • Gasp
  • Gurgle
  • Huff
  • Hum
  • Murmur
  • Whir
  • Whish
  • Whoosh
  • Shush
  • Whistle
  • Shriek
  • Scream
  • Howl
  • Wail
  • Sigh
  • Susurrus


Onomatopoeia (AKA Create-Your-Own)
Flu ShotCredit: Anthony Clark | Nedroid Comics

A great– and diverting– place to find examples of onomatopoetic words is in the world of comics. Kathleen Temean also has a decent list of onomatopoeias. Language is an incredibly flexible tool, so don’t be afraid of using actual sounds–just because a sound isn’t found in the dictionary doesn’t mean that it won’t be understood or can’t be a good addition to a scene.

Some basic rules for creating sound words:

  1. Keep it 7 letters and under
  2. Use consonants and vowels in a way that’s consistent with English usage
  3. Keep it simple


Abigail, finally listening to the hiccuping growl of her stomach, signing off.


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