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Shades of Gray: The Power in the Blood
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message 1: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 276 comments i had the same advice. contractions are only used in informal writing. so you're not the only one hearing that. i tend to be casual here on gr and slightly informal in my novels (depends on narrative style). i dont happen across one who writes properly *all the time* so you sir are quite the oddity heh. :)

message 2: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Veracruz (melissaveracruz) | 96 comments Dusty, do you mean contractions make writing look unprofessional?

If so, here are my thoughts on it. Let's say you're in first person. Do real people talk in formal speak in their heads? No. If you're in third person, even then formality can be stilted. The thing about fiction is that it is not Composition I or Technical Writing.

When it comes to flow, contractions can guide the story along.

Read it out loud, as a reader would or your character would. I have read books that the lack of contractions left me feeling annoyed. Not good for star counts.

message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve Harrison (stormingtime) | 75 comments I work on the basis that there are no rules in writing, only what works and what doesn't. When your writing flows smoothly and is easily processed by the reader, whatever the hell you did was right :)

message 4: by Brian (new)

Brian Foster (bwfoster78) | 191 comments Dusty,

Is your narration:

a: the author talking to the reader?
b: a narrator talking to the reader?
c: the character talking to the reader?
d: an example of proper technical writing?

Given your initial post, it seems like you haven't quite figured out your Voice yet, and the first thing you need to do is answer the question above.

If you think of your narration as "talking to the reader," why shouldn't you use contractions?

Hope this helps.


message 5: by Victoria (new)

Victoria S. | 23 comments Pick up one of your favorite books and notice what the author did with regard to questions like whether or not to use contractions. I think the best writing doesn't call attention to itself. The reader should disappear into the book, unaware of what the writer has tried so hard to accomplish.

message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli Yup. And whether to use contradictions is predicated on whether it will be a jolt to knock the reader out of the book.

message 7: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments From the "Chicago Manual of Style" 16th Edition, 5.103 - "Most types of writing benefit from the sue of contractions. If used thoughtfully, contractions in prose sound natural and relaxed and make reading more enjoyable..."

This book should be a writer's "bible" as far as style conventions. When in doubt - this is the book to reference.

message 8: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) Honestly, I notice when writing doesn't use contractions because I read slowly, hearing the words spoken in my head at conversational pace.

So my ear protests if there aren't contractions. It sounds stilted. It sounds like the robot Data from Star Treck the Next Generation.

On the contrary, I don't notice contractions when I read. My ear just lets them slide by naturally.

All that said, I try to pay attention to contractions in my narration. Sometimes they can sound too informal. Sometimes leaving them out allows you to put more stress or emphasis on a particular point. Sometimes they sound more authoritative.

So it really varies. I tend to use less of them in narration, and let them all hang out in dialog (or in narration that's written in a more casual tone or POV).

message 9: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 1 comments I think there should be a balance. As has been stated here, if you don't use contractions which is common today, it sounds like robotic talking.

I suggest you read any book by a very popular agent, Noah Lukeman. He's written quite a few books on writing styles that have really helped me.

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