Sound effects can liven up a story. They are onomatopoeias- words that imitate the sound associated with them, like a hiss or a buzz. Here are some off the top of my head and ones I got from flipping through my graphic novel collection: ding-ding, Boom!, BLAM, Zap, blub-blub, BUDDA BUDDA BRAKKA BRAKKA (That last was machine gun fire.)
If you're serious about sounds effects, you may want to get KA-BOOM! A Dictionary of Comic Book Words, Symbols & Onomatopoeia by Kevin J. Taylor.
You must be clear with yourself what exactly you are describing. Let me explain. I committed an error recently in my work in progress, Twelve Keys. A character rides a steam powered motorcycle. I've read extensively about the history of these machines and studied pictures. I've ridden on the back of my husband's traditional modern motorcycle. Stupidly, I thought I was an expert. DOINK!
I pull up a YouTube video and watch a steamcycle in action and what do I hear? Not the Rumbly-Bumbly sound I described in my chapter, but more of tukkety-tukkety. I clicked on another vid of a different type of steam powered motorcycle and it was a chug-chug-chug-sss, almost like a mini train. Neither resembled my sound effect. (Yes, those are links to the videos embedded there. Take a gander.)
My point: do your homework. Go into the world (or at least YouTube) and listen. I'm sure, unlike me, you know the modern version of a thing doesn't sound like the old fashioned machine. Doh! (Darn that historic mumbo-jumbo.)Then, play around with the spelling of the sound effect. Read it, say it out loud, and ask somebody else to look at it and utter it. It's kind of eye-dialect* and the regular English spelling rules don't apply.
*Eye dialect, strictly speaking, is the representation of standard pronunciations by unconventional spellings, for instance- "sez" and "wuz." I'm using the term here because the sound effects do appeal to the eye as well as the ear.
|1884 Copeland Steam Cycle (replica) The Art of the Motorcycle - Memphis|