(more than) Words. [a thread about writing]

Sorry to hijack this thread but I didn’t find one where this would fit (if there’s one, please let me know!).
I’m writing this short story and wondering if anyone could help me out word this better since I have minimal knowledge of music theory:
" As the chorus of bats and insects bounced on the chasm’s walls the reverberation colored the drone with a richness of harmonics and an almost metallic sounding resonance and it seemed to amplify strange characteristics and dimensions previously imperceptible - an underlying chant sung in some primordial language familiar to all men but understood by none."

In bold is the pertinent part I’m hoping to flesh out better- the final portion if for context.
I’m trying to describe a scene were a drone of cicadas and other creatures of a desert landscape reverberate through a ravine and I’m picturing that there’s some strange effect going on - a bit fantastical so it doesn’t need to be 100% scientific.
I’m flip flopping between what’s more appropriate: “harmonics” or “overtones” or perhaps some better way to enrich the description of a sound gaining new characteristics both natural and fantastical with some appropriate sound theory terms.

Anyone got any suggestions? Thanks!

Passages like these are always tough to write because you have to balance detail with clarity. For instance, right now the first sentence has the actual chorus bouncing on the walls, which conjures an image of wildlife slamming into the sides of the ravine.

Your description of the passage is actually better and more descriptive than the passage itself:

I’m trying to describe a scene were a drone of cicadas and other creatures of a desert landscape reverberate through a ravine and I’m picturing that there’s some strange effect going on

That could even be a lead-in to the purple prose. W/r/t that part, my best advice is to not go overboard. You have almost nothing but sensory description right now, and that’s not necessarily bad, but it’s like salt: easy to overdo. A good exercise is to write the simplest possible version of the sentence and build it up from there.

Also, I’m assuming you’re from the UK due to your lack of commas, but you should pop a couple in there for clarity—right now, it’s completely unbroken, which, unless it’s a stylistic choice, is not ideal for readability. (I’m a freelance writer, not a creative writer, so I’m always looking out for things like this.)


Thanks a lot for your tips, I hadn’t clocked in on that “chorus” mistake.I’m not a native english speaker so I sometimes get fumbled by very basic stuff :slight_smile:
Gave in another pass:
And as their chirps reverberated through the chasm’s walls the sound was coloured with a metallic sounding resonance, an effect that seemed to amplify characteristics and dimensions previously imperceptible

I feel you can tighten it further by removing words whose meanings are already implied. For example, you don’t need to say it was “an effect that seemed” to do a thing — it can just do the thing.

And as their chirps reverberated through the chasm’s walls, the sound echoed with a metallic resonance amplifying previously imperceptible dimensions.


The key of my use of “seemed” here is to imply that it’s not necessarily happening - it could be an effect happening only in the character’s mind.

Sure! I guess in my worldview that’s how perception works. If it seems to you that you can hear new things in a sound, then that’s what the effect is doing. But is your writing do what you like.

I’m doing National Novel Writing Month this year for the first time (and my first time with creative fiction since I did DND campaigns in middle school). Anyone else doing it?


I sort of forgot about NaNoWriMo but I did decide this morning to get back in to writing 750 words every day. Something I used to do for a few years with many long streaks. Was actually thinking about lowering the bar a bit. I write in 30 minute increments and it feels like after a while I start writing gibberish just to hit the word count by the end of the time.

I have done NaNoWriMo a couple of times. All it did was made me appreciate how much work writing is. How much more work good writing is.


Yeah I’ve been trying to “warm up” to the recommended word count but the only days I get there are when I’m really excited about an idea. Sometimes it helps motivate me to try something new when I kind of feel done. Or I’ll use it as an opportunity to rework something and try to make it into something that flows. That counts, right? :smirk:
I don’t expect to have a novel at the end but I’ve had an idea for a while and I’m using it as an excuse to see if I actually want to write a book, or if I just like having cool ideas. Which is actually totally fine with me.