Make SFX Matter

Use SFX merely as audio elements sparingly. KSSSHHH for breaking glass, BLAM BLAM BLAM for a gunshot etc.

Most of the time when you’re embedding SFX in your script, give them specific purpose—make them work for a living (after all, you gave them the privilege to be in your book!)

If a SFX is not enhancing the tone, style, mood or feel of the narrative, it should be cuing the reader into a specific element that supports the story. If it’s not, it’s probably one of those union SFX getting paid by the hour (standing around looking pretty) and you should probably get rid of him.

Was playing out a scene in my head for a new Samurai story earlier, I saw “THUMP-THUMP-THUMP” repeated excessively across a series of panels where the hero is not fighting back and getting the crow beat out of him by some baddies. Then the thumping slows as he comes to grips he’s about to die. Finally, the thumping moves into a very slow, steady rhythm as the hero finally fights back.
The SFX beat of the hero’s heart compliments the narrative, it actually helps tell the story and set the emotional context of the scene.

Another example, is the sound of police or ambulance sirens or a bank vault alarm. These are specific sounds that tell us something specific is going on. If a cat burglar is robbing a vault and we see “EEEEEeeeeEEEEEeeeEEEEeeeEEEeeee”, the sound conveys what just happened in the story.

The more your SFX work, the more effective you pages and narrative will be. Easy as eatin’ pancakes.

About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S.  Visit for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *