Contractions in the written word are a bit of a conundrum. I was brought up with the ideal of not using them in narrative. EVER. And only using them in discourse sparingly. And yet - more and more editors harp about adding contractions.
"His words sound too stilted, you need to add more contractions."
"Their language doesn't feel natural. Add more contractions."
Here is my question. Natural to who? In my roughest of rough drafts, I have been known to use contractions in narrative, just because it is quicker than drawing them out, but once it reaches final form, I would PREFER not to have any in the narrative at all. In dialogue, I prefer a more formal way of speech. Unless the character is quirky, at which point, I bring in all sorts of quirks in their dialogue.
But more and more, I am feeling myself pushed into contractionland. I just read something from one editor making the remark that writing with contractions will make your words sound better to you. WRONG! To me, I wince every time I see a contraction in my work...especially in the narrative.
True, there are some instances (very few) where contractions fit. Such as questioning with the word does not. "Doesn't that sound right?" does sound more modern day than "Does that not sound right?"
In truth? I hate contractions. To me they are a lower form of discourse. I use them sparingly in everyday speech, myself, and many of my characters follow suit. The only place I am likely to use a lot of them is in social media where characters count or I am typing quickly in response.
And yet...I feel pressured to accept these horrible excuses for bruised language.
Help! I am drowning.
Now, does that not sound better? I am drowning, rather than I'm drowning?
Too bad. Expect less and less contractions from now on. In my next few books, they will be there as the editing has already been done. But for anything released in 2014? All bets are off. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!
Labels: contractions, discourse, editing, publishing, speech, writing