Tag Archives: cats

Are There Birds in Your Book?

One of the many varieties of plover.

Perhaps there’s a setting or a scene that you want to help your reader to hear: instead of just listing the names of birds that may be present, why not describe and/or phoneticize the bird songs or calls?

An adventure story which takes place outdoors is a natural setting for evoking environmental sound effects, but even a contemporary story in a small town setting can include a description of bird vocalizations. In this simple but alliterative description in the beginning scene of a chapter, the noise made by the birds is contrasted with the mindset of the character:

STRIDENT sparrows quarrelled on the windowsill, but as Dillon listened, serenity suffused his soul.
~ Irish Firebrands, Chapter 19

Phoneticized bird vocalizations (also called mnemonics) just means using onomatopoeia to represent sounds as words. These websites provide good examples:

http://fsc.fernbank.edu/Birding/mnemonics.htm

https://web.stanford.edu/~kendric/birds/birdsong.html

The explanation below includes a list of descriptive words that can be applied to bird sounds (click on the image to download the document):

If you want to develop your own lexicon of birdsong mnemonics (or if you just want to become better acquainted with your feathered neighbors), click on the screen shots to access two databases of bird calls and songs:

BTW, when I play these recordings, it messes with my cat’s mind: he thinks there are birds hiding beneath my computer desk, and is puzzled when he can’t find them! 😀

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Do You Write Leitmotifs?

People seek storytellers who can meet their need to find patterns in life.

Leitmotif is how this is done.

leit·mo·tif

also leit·mo·tiv (līt′mō-tēf′)

n.

1. A melodic passage or phrase, especially in Wagnerian opera, associated with a specific character, situation, or element.
2. A dominant and recurring theme, as in a novel.

[German Leitmotiv : leiten, to lead (from Middle High German, from Old High German leitan; see leit- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + Motiv, motif(from French motif; see motif).]
Source: American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Irish Firebrands features both thematic and character leitmotifs, perhaps because I like to write to music, and developed a “soundtrack” over the three years it took to write the novel. But this kind of writing certainly doesn’t have to be confined to Literary Fiction, just as melodic leitmotifs don’t have to be confined to Wagnerian opera. Below is a famous example of specifically leitmotif-based music that’s combined with a story: Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. (And the cat in the picture looks just like mine!) 🙂

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He Takes No Prisoners!

kittypoo-meme2“I TOLD YOU to put that thing down and PET ME! NOW will you listen?”

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