I’ve got a problem with contractions

First, no, my wife is not pregnant and this article has nothing to do with pregnancy, this is about grammar.

contractionsAs I get more and more into the craft and art of writing fiction, I like to learn as much as possible. It is has been fascinating to learn about plotting, character sketches, beta readers and the editing process.

One thing that I have noticed, or I should say, my wife (my number one editor) noticed about my writing… I don’t use contractions. Ok, I know what your sating, “but you just used one”. Sure, I use them all the time when I am talking, but I find I don’t think with contractions and I write as I think, but I am working on it.

One of my first completed short stories had next to no contractions anywhere in the entire 9,000 words. So she pointed it out to me and when I reread it, I was shocked. If I was telling the story to someone, I would be using contractions all over the place, I’m from NY and we try to say as much as possible with the fewest syllables as possible (I’m almost positive that “sup” originated in upstate NY). So I went through the entire thing and shortened the word count by about 100 words just putting in contractions.

Is this an amateur issue or do experienced authors still struggle with thinking in contractions? Or am I just weird (which is a real possibility)?

Next time I will have to vent about commas, man are they all over the place 🙂

Until next time…


11 thoughts on “I’ve got a problem with contractions

  1. I loved this post and you pointed out an issue that a lot of writers face. Do you talk the same way you write? As you have shown, you write in a different style than you talk. This could work for you or against you. If you are creating fiction, then you need to work in how you talk into your dialogue. When you are rereading what you have written, do you read aloud? I would recommend that. I reread aloud a lot and I find it helps with the dialogue. 🙂

    I personally don’t have trouble thinking in contractions or writing with them. But grammar is a tricky thing and I have my own battles with it.

    Good luck and thanks for the great post! 🙂

  2. My problem is that when I write in every day life for work (law firm – to judges and drafting briefs) I have it so ingrained in me that it is not proper English to use contractions. Because in my line of work I would be in a ton of trouble. I find though when one of my characters is really in my head, I tend to write the way they think. But my first few drafts were horrible. No contractions at all. It will come!

    1. I think my issue comes form a similar situation, I work in a business environment where I write emails to upper management and want to sound as professional as possible. Glad to see I am not alone 🙂

  3. I have the opposite problem; I always use contractions! My husband has point this out to me and he sees it as a bit of a flaw. He thinks that contractions are best in dialogue, where an English speaker is most likely to use them, but are misplaced in the prose. I tend to disagree (especially for a YA novel) but it’s something to consider.

    1. I would agree that contractions are best used in dialogue, but in YA I could see using it in the narration also. I will have to pay attention to how others use them.

  4. I write with contractions to “round off” the edges… When I want my writing to connect with and sustain the reader I use contractions. It is warm inviting and musical. The sentences end up with a loping feel (like a swung 8th note – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCuXp-FYwjA). If I am being informational, serious, or imperative the writing becomes more staccato and symmetric. I open up the contractions, use polysyllabic words, and use fewer and fewer modifiers (straight 8’s – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUOlc_j4rMA). Contractions are like butter…num, num.

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