16 Jan 2015: The Sound of Reading

I think sounds can be one of the most frustrating things for me to write into my books.  Take Ooo for example.  I have a character that says something like “Oooo, what a pretty sweater!”  So how do you write Ooo.  The sound is like how you pronounce “you” without the “y” and rhymes with pew, dew, moo and boo.  When I threw the question out to friends on Facebook, as I often do with such puzzling questions, I got back responses of Ooo or Ew.  In the end, I went with Ooo because although Ew might be just as correct, it looked too much like “Ew, what’s that horrible smell,” to me.  Ew as a sound seems more nasally with a negative connotation.

Yes, this is what I’m pondering in the wee hours of the morning …. Sad, no?

Another one that took some time to conclude was Uh-oh.  In a sentence this would be something like “Uh-oh, you’re in trouble again.”  I asked a dozen friends and got a dozen answers on this sound question.

Another is the sound Hummm.  This one is like you’re taking a moment to ponder something.  “Humm … I’m not sure which gun to use.”  When I asked the friends, they fell into one of two camps.  The “Humm”s and the “Hmmm”s.  That’s with or without the U.  In the end I chose the U.  I just thought it looked cleaner.

Other sounds we have to write are “Huh?” as in the answer to a question, but you never really heard the question to begin with.

This one goes hand in hand with “Uh- huh” which would be a positive response to a question.



  1. What about “hmph”? Or should it be “humph”? Surprisingly, Grammerly tags the first as mis-spelled but lets the second one go. Of course, it also tags its own name as a mis-spelling. Go figure.


  2. In my books I spelled it Humph. A lot of time I have things like “he humphed in response.” I think you kinda need a vowel in the beginning of the word to make that one work. My Word loves to tell me things aren’t word! I’m planning on doing an upcoming post on that topic.


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