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Book: Euphonics For Writers - Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 15) by Rayne Hall

Book: Euphonics For Writers - Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 15) by Rayne Hall

categories: Book, Fiction Writing, Fiction Editing, Creative Writing, Genre Writing, Writing Skills, Writing Craft


Rayne Hall

Author Rayne Hallabout this book: Learn how to touch your readers' subconscious with subtle tricks.

Certain sounds have certain effects on the psyche. By using words which include those sounds, you influence how the reader feels.

Excerpt from the Sound Effect Thesaurus section:


Here you'll find sounds to create certain moods in the reader's mind: 'EE' gives a creepy sensation, while 'R' creates a sense of hurry and speed, and 'P' hints at masculinity, authority and pride.

I suggest you read through the thesaurus once to discover what's there and get a feel for possibilities. Then you choose the scene you want to revise, and pick the sound - or sounds - to bring about the desired mood.

In each section, cartoon kitty will show what the effects mean to a cat.

Collect suitable words and either list them on your computer, or write them on slips of paper (coloured card is nice), put them in a pretty basket to pick out and play with. Use them to replace some words in your manuscript.

But please don't get carried away, using unsuitable words for the sake of euphonics. Content is always more important than sound.

English is a strongly euphonic language, and many words contain sounds which suit their content. Words like creak, eerie, secret, and screech, for example, create a creepy feel. Each thesaurus section lists such words, as well as others which don't carry that meaning but hold the same sound and can serve to enrich the effect.

For those of you who like technical terms, the effect of sound creating word meaning is called 'phonosemantics'.

Euphonic sounds will amplify the effects of your skilfully crafted writing, but they can't create what isn't there. I can't emphasise this enough. On their own, the sounds won't work.

Apply the sounds with a light brush, like subtle make-up. The reader should not be aware of the technique, only of the resulting beauty.


The sound of the letter P is masculine, authoritative and proud, and you can use it to evoke a sense of maleness and power.

In the English language, many words containing the letter P convey exactly this meaning:

'P' words are used to express authority (power, principle, politics, parliament, empire, approve, impose), a person who wields authority (president, prelate, prefect, emperor, empress, pastor, priest, prince, pontiff, patriarch).

Displays of authority and of personal pride also often have a 'P' sound: parade, palace, portal, pose, display, pomp, peacock, prance, preen, pretend, imposter, importance, impress.

Words relating to judgement, military, law enforcement and punishment often have the letter P: police, penalty, punishment, appraisal, probe, oppose, probate, approve, passport, apprehend, appeal, troop, platoon, deploy, poll, parish, population, protocol, parochial, position, plead, process, prison.

Many long stick-like objects contain the letter P (pole, pile, peg, pillar, pilaster, peak, pike, spear) and so do the actions carried out with them (poke, pierce, prong, push, pin, prick, penetrate, point). Perhaps it's no coincidence that words for the male sexual organ are often 'P' words, too (penis, prick), as are many words conveying maleness (patriarchy, paternal, progenitor).

Other words you can use to add to the 'P' effect in your paragraphs: apply, park, perk, pug, puppy, posy, plug, apple, pear, grape apricot, peach, painting, portrait, picture, people, ping, peg, gape, lip, ship, pen, pulse, parchment, palaver, ploy, ape, sap, tap, sip, tip, pillow, pirouette, pry, pray, staple, pry, ploy, slip, plant, peek, peer, nape, plate, platinum, planet, ship, rip, spin, wasp, lamp, ample, shape.

Usage examples: The warriors don't eat oranges and strawberries, but pears and plums. Outside the emperor's palace, instead of foxgloves flowering among birches, show poppies blooming amidst poplars. The entrance to the court of law doesn't have columns on either side of the door, but pillars flanking the portal.

When To Use 'P' Sounds

• to show unbending authority, bureaucracy or the law
• for a male-only environment such as a bootcamp for warriors
• to portray a character who prides himself on his masculinity
• for erotic scenes with male action
• for a display of power, especially if it's pompous
• to portray a proud or pompous character
• for a firm patriarchal society or male-dominated family

Tip: To portray a pompous haughty character, combine the 'P' and 'H' sounds in the same paragraph. For unbending prohibitions, use 'P' with 'N'. For a benevolent ruler, blend 'P' and 'M'.


In fast-paced scenes when things happen quickly, words containing the 'R' sound emphasise the speed: hurry, rush, race, run, rapid, scurry, rip, flurry.

Here are some more words you can add to the mix: thrust, ring, roll, red, rage, riot, pare, pour, pore, sore, sour, sure, sire, bray, ray, risk, rebel, round, rust, retch, rasp, rut, car, carriage, cry, arc, arch, rant.

Usage example: The heroine doesn't pull herself from the villain's claps and dash across the alley, but she tears herself from his grip and races across the road.

When To Use 'R' Sounds

• whenever you want to achieve a fast pace in your writing
• when a character is in a great hurry and moving fast
• for fight scenes
• for chases and escapes

Tip: In fight scenes the sounds 'R' and 'K' combine well, especially when the combatants fight with swords, knives or daggers. The English language has many words which blend both sounds, perfect for this use: crack, rack, rock, rookie, rake, strike, stroke, crutch, crotch, cur, curb, curt, court, torque, crop, cry, trick, trap.

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