I had a hard time finding an image to go along with this post because obviously “loud” is something experienced through our ears. So how can you get your readers to “hear” loud using only the written word?
One answer is to focus on how loudness makes people feel in different situations. Any migraine sufferer can tell you that something doesn’t need to be loud to feel that way to a person. For instance, if your characters are having a contemplative moment of silence, any sort of disturbance is going to feel loud, even if it is a happy sound like laughter. If people are startled by a noise they may curse, stand, spill a drink, or make some other sudden and disruptive sound or movement.
On the other hand, if you’ve got people in the middle of a death metal concert, loudness would be an important part of the experience. The thud of the base in your chest and the feeling of being totally absorbed in the sound could feel liberating, or to the uninitiated it could add to a feeling of claustrophobia. Loud kids are usually happy kids, but a dog that is making a lot of noise is probably pretty agitated. If a person is both happy and loud, they could be described as ebullient, but a loud and angry crying jag is called keaning. It’s all about the feelings.
Sometimes, you just need a good synonym or simile and varying your word choices will help to keep the interest of both yourself and your readers.
Loud adjectives: thunderous, cacophonous, sonorous, vociferous, clamorous, blaring, deafening, piercing, ear-piercing/ear-shattering/earth-shattering, powerful, forceful, lusty, forte, insistent, vehement, emphatic, urgent, noisy
Loud nouns: clang, ping, thwack, whack, slap, whoosh, boom, beep, blast, explosion, wail, cacophony, clamor, clangor, clatter, clash, crash, crunch, hoot, peal, racket, roar, snap, thunk, honk, din
Combine anything from list one and list two, and you’ve got a pretty exciting way of saying “loud”! Thunderous boom, forceful clang, urgent wail, the list goes one!
And sometimes you want to show that a character is speaking at a high volume without ever using the word loud. I’ve got an even longer list of synonyms in this post, but here are a few I came up with to show someone is making a lot of sound while speaking with resorting to “she said loudly.”
Synonyms for speaking/emoting loudly: cry, crow, shout, call, scream, whoop, guffaw, howl, screech, wail, erupt, explode, shriek
A great way to loosen the old gray matter up if you are having trouble deciding how to express “loudness” while you are writing is to do a little brainstorming. Take a few minutes and see how many different loud things you can think of, or use the list below to get your mind moving.
- Basically all trucks (tow truck, garbage truck, fire truck, etc) and farm equipment
- Stereos, speakers, feedback from instruments or a microphone
- Waves crashing, something hitting water from a great height
- Barking/howling dogs, mewling cats, hungry guinea pigs
- Air passing by your ears during free fall
- Large engines like airplanes or trains
- Children playing/children crying
- Sirens, car horns, and school bells
- Heavy things hitting each other
- Structures or trees falling
- Hand guns and other weapons
- A death rattle
- Power tools
- And don’t forget, the silence of absence can also feel loud if you are used to the happy sounds of a full house
Looking for more ways to Dress up Description? Check out my post about the color red.