Contractions
In ancient times, people started speaking to each other, and one day, somebody shortened two words, “Its going to be hot today.” Instead of, “It is going to be hot today.” Later, people began developing letters that represented words and needed to describe these shortened words. To solve this dilemma, writers invented the contraction. “It’s going to be hot today.” This invention opened up a whole new world. Couldn’t, he’ll, I’m, let’s, that’s, she’s, what’re, won’t, you’re, we’re. And, of course, the most essential contraction ever written, Bill’s. Well, it’s important to me.
Now there were many new words for both writers and readers. My problem was that I hated contractions. My first book (Interviewing Immortality) did not have a single one in the first draft. My beta reader (mom) asked me, “Why did you intentionally not use contractions?” I had no answer, but my work clearly needed to be updated. To address this shortcoming, I found a list of contractions and did a search/replace where it seemed appropriate.
“It’s going to be hot today.” To me, that sentence reads like an uneducated person describing the weather and not the words of a polished author. However, my everyday speech is full of contractions.
What was going on? I intentionally “decompress” contractions into their formal two-word form when I write because that looks proper. When should I use them? Reading other books did not help because I could not see any logic to their use. It was as if the authors used a shotgun loaded with apostrophes and blasted away. Author authors only used one every ten pages.
Of course, I read all the rules, style guides, and extensively used grammar programs. It was a forced process, but I occasionally put a contraction into a standard sentence.
I understand that there is a harsh reality to effective writing. Good contraction use is the mark of a skilled author. It shows the mastery of the English language. Why? A contraction allows characters to go from informal to formal. Bob casually stated, “It’s going to be hot today.” Bob warned the assembled people, “It is going to be hot today.” That’s the power of words. They paint a mental picture of what the character is projecting.
This acceptance is still in the beginning stages, and it will probably take five years for me to insert them subconsciously. Bummer!

You’re the best -Bill
September 05, 2018 Updated August 12, 2023
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