Writing: A Writer's
A Sound Effects Script
Today's Snack: What makes a more delicious sound than
biting into a crisp apple? Eat one just as noisily as you can, and gulp a glass
of milk as loudly as you can, without spilling!
Photocopy the script,
below, or project it on a big screen
Lined writing paper
and No. 2 pencil for each student
One tape recorder and
blank tape for each student,
or if not available,
set up groups of two
or three students
In advance, look at
the room and list the props already there: cupboard doors that squeak when
opened, telephone, faucet, keyboard for typing, lightswitch, scuffing carpet
with a foot, pulling a chair out on a hard-surface floor, etc.
paper cups (slam
together or use as a drum), pitcher of water, straws for slurping, pop bottle
for blowing into like a foghorn, duck call, car keys, blender, toothbrush,
potato chips, raw carrot, basketball, mini piano keyboard, bell, hammer and
wood, saw, wire whisk and bowl, tapes of music, sandpaper, electric shaver,
music box, playing cards, pillow, book.
There are CD's full of
available on the
commercial market for not too much money
that would add a lot
of fun and variety to this activity;
you will need a CD
player if you choose to use
a sound effects
library on CD
Good sentences and paragraphs have a certain "flow"
to them. We call it "fluency."
One of the best ways to write fluently is to be
thinking about the imaginary sounds that your writing will create in the mind
of your reader.
Sound adds a lot to the communication power of
language. Sound effects and background music are a huge part of any motion
picture. The advantage to writing is that you can create the effects of sound
in your writing without actually having to create those sounds!.
You simply write words that trigger your reader's
imagination to think about those sounds. It's very pleasing, and makes them
want to read more.
Choose one or more of these sounds
and act it out just with your body - no props. If you are with other students,
take turns, and give each other feedback:
lapping up water
over ice cubes
how quickly and accurately those sounds communicated meaning? You can write
with more "sound effects" to benefit from that communication power, too.
experiment, as a group, with different sounds you can make simply with your
the sound of a plane crashing
firecracker going off
pop a finger off the inside of your
cluck your tongue
crow like a rooster
bark like a dog
slam a fist into your hand
with sounds you can make with simple props:
scratch pen on paper
tap pen on table
tap pen on wastebasket
pound upside-down wastebasket like a
poke hole in paper with pen
crumble paper into ball and use pen as
listing humorous sounds and the situation in which they might be used:
a cuckoo clock for when a football
player has been tackled hard
the sound of a lightbulb turning on
with a pullstring when someone gets an idea
a scary, low chord of piano music for
the climax of a scary story
sickeningly high falsetto voices in
melodrama: "Our hero!"
lonely cricket chirping after a joke
that falls flat
ask one or more volunteer students to act out a longer sequence of sounds, to
test the communication power of sounds. Keep what you're doing a secret so the
other students have to guess. All the other students should shut their eyes. No
peeking! Now one student should make three sounds, using his or her own body,
and/or props in the room. Suggestion:
Tromp loudly up to the front of the
open a squeaky cupboard door,
and ring a bell.
can open their eyes now and talk about what just happened, what they heard, and
what it might mean.
let's get into pairs or small groups, and create a story using at least 10
different sound effects. You can use both words and sound effects to tell your
story. You can use the props to make sounds, or sounds with your own body. Keep
it nice and polite, please! Imagine that the Queen of England is in the
audience, so don't do anything rude, please.
OK, we KNOW you can make funny body sounds. So on the count of 3, everybody can
make as many funny body sounds as they would like, for 10 seconds, and then
that will be the end of that.
tape recorders are available, it's fun to tape-record these stories in a
separate room, and then play them back for the larger group.
if tape recorders are not available, simply lay out the available sound-making
props from today's supply list, and let each pair or group create a story using
at least 10 different sounds.
each student, or group, should start making a list of their favorite sound
effects. Show them the props to give them more ideas.
student, pair or group should brainstorm story idea topics and different types
of story themes, and the sounds that generally go with them. Examples:
Mystery: footsteps, creaky door,
Jungle tale: Tarzan yell, ape noise,
Humor sketch: funny laughter, snorts,
you've come up with a story idea and theme, develop the story, with a
beginning, middle and end. Keep it short, but sweet!
the audio script format, below, each student, pair or team should write a
script with at least 10 sounds.
perform for your adoring audience!
Sound Effects Script
To write an audio script: first, in one sentence,
write who is the main character, what is the problem or situation, and what
happens to resolve it. Make it clear whether your story's tone is funny, scary,
sad, mysterious, heroic, or whatever.
This description is just to keep you on track; you
won't perform it in your script. It's just for starters!
As you plan your story, divide your paper into two
parts, with the sound effects off to the left, and spoken words to the right.
See the sample script, below.
It helps to have any props you need lined up, in the
order that you will need to use them. Try to avoid "dead time," while you're
fiddling around making the sound effects. Try for a really good "flow" to your
performance - that's what keeps audience interest high.
SAMPLE AUDIO SCRIPT
A Trip to the Dentist
SOUND EFFECT: VOICEOVER:
and engine running I
started worrying the second we got in the car to go to my
Dr. Disaster. Pain! Suffering!
piano chord, followed by scream
typical Mom voice)
lighten up! He's NOT going to HURT you!!!!
kids' voices, really high like fairies,
"YEAH . . . RIGHT!!!"
ROLL OF DUCT
TAPE UNWRAPPING FOR
I worried anyway. I worried about how they turn you
a paper MUMMY with that thing around your neck and
bozo apron . . .
. . . and start picking at your teeth
with those sharp picks . . .
SCREWDRIVER AGAINST METAL
. . and oooh, that DRILL . . .
you CUT it OUT??? Look, we're here. Now you
He's NOT going to hurt your teeth! Now, get in
ON THE PIANO
SECONDS OF SILENCE
Mom! No cavities!!! Why did I ever worry?
OF "HALLELUJAH CHORUS"
AT THE END
WITH A HIGH, ANGELIC