What is the sound of paper? Julia Cameron wrote a book by this title, The Sound of Paper. I began reading it some time back and found it so inspiring that I returned the library copy, determined to order my own. Today I remembered the title and hit the ‘net, looking for more information.

That search activated a synapse deep inside Google, the cerebral cortex of cyberspace, linking to an essay, “The Sound of Paper”, posted on the Moleskinerie blog site by Pinkadelic. The essay lists a dozen sounds of paper, such as

“It’s a note uncrinkling on its own after being passed under bubblegum-painted desks. Do you like me? Circle Yes or No. Yes.”

Pinkadelic puts the sounds into contexts, as we do when we insert sound into stories, and her results are polished to a sheen.

Her post intrigued me in a couple of ways. I admire her craft and her imagination in finding these examples. And it reminds me that awareness of the raw data of sound lies deep beneath these descriptive gems. Basic awareness is the fuel for the sparkle in your stories.

I let my awareness wander to all the paper-connected sounds I can think of: rattle, rustle, crumple, rip, crinkle, flip, tear, snap, rub, crack. There are surely more, but this list will do.

Few of these sounds mean much unless they are put into a context, like “The sound of crinkling paper followed by a hollow thud and muttered expletives told me Maynard’s project was not going well.” Or, “The sound of shuffling papers alerted me that Janet had finished the edits.”

Including references to sound, indeed any of your senses, enriches your stories, adding a note of realism and credibility hard to achieve any other way. Becoming intensely present in your surroundings, then cataloging your sensory input will fill the bins of your brain with enough fuel to sparkle up all the stories you can imagine.