Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Contractions: Yes or No?

I just finished NaNoWriMo last month, and it was an exhilarating experience.  Of course, just like any other, there are positive and negatives, but I feel that the positives greatly outweighed the negative. 

And while participating, there’s the chance of hearing advice on how to increase word count if you’re nearing the end of the month and you still haven’t gotten quite there.  Advice like giving your character two names as a first name.  Or deleting contractions, making them two words.

Now this advice I find very interesting because that’s exactly what I did the first time I wrote a novel.  It was set in an older time period, so I assumed to make it sound ‘older,’ I should delete all of the contractions.  I also thought it would make my character sound more sophisticated because she's royalty.  Basically, I made it sound stale and stiff.

Dialogue is something that flows naturally, and yes, there are some people who may not use contractions as often, but more often than not, they’re going to escape at some point.  And when writing narrative, it’s incredibly dull to read something that doesn’t have any contractions at all.  I’ve read some drafts for betas who have left out contractions and I found it difficult to feel pulled into the story.  It almost felt as though I was being held at arm’s length. 

This post is short because I want to know your opinions.  When you read, do you notice contractions at all?  Do you think that not using them sounds more formal or more ‘writerly?’