At some point in life, you learned about contractions, and your world changed. With a little apostrophe, you could suddenly combine two words into one. Then, something changed.
After years of saying can’t, don’t, and wouldn’t, you fell back into old habits. Do not, cannot, and would not took over your writing. You wanted to sound serious, so you chopped out contractions. Unfortunately, killing contractions also kills your writing.
While you don’t have to use contractions at every available opportunity, it’s a good idea to use them more often than not. Here are three reasons to put them in your story.
They Save Space
It seems silly, but contractions take up less space. That means you can put more words on a page. Unless your goal is to use as much ink as possible, there’s no reason to avoid contractions.
Of course, contractions won’t save you pages and pages of ink, but it will save a little bit. That little bit can make your paragraphs a tiny bit shorter. Though the goal isn’t to create the shortest possible paragraphs, short paragraphs are less intimidating. They’re more inviting. And you want your paragraphs to invite readers in, right? Then you know what to do!
Contractions Are Less Distracting
I do not believe many people will enjoy reading this paragraph. Why? Because it is not written in a way that avoids distractions. Rather, it is filled with language that slows you down and makes you feel like you are reading writing that is for someone who does not know how to read.
Feel how slow that paragraph read? That’s what happens when you don’t use contractions. You force readers to move slowly.
There are times when slower reading is appropriate, but if you use slow language nonstop, readers will grow tired of your book. When they get tired, they put it down. Then, you’ve lost.
Reduce distractions by using contractions. You’ll write a book people want to read. Your readers will thank you, and you’ll give your book the opportunity to succeed.
Everyone Uses Them
Contractions get used in everyday speech. They’re in presidential speeches. They exist in books you love. They’re even in books you hate. And they belong in your book.
People talk with contractions all the time. When speaking to an audience, it’s important to use their language. Otherwise, they won’t understand what you’re saying. Keep that in mind with your manuscript. Use contractions as often as possible.
When you do, your writing feels more familiar to readers. By making your writing feel familiar, readers get comfortable with your book. When this happens, they stick around for the dramatic conclusion! Overuse stilted, academic do nots and have nots, and your readers will run for the hills.
(Fun fact: While many claim that contractions don’t belong in certain settings, at least one person disagrees. On PlainLanguage.gov, you can learn about Bryan Garner’s advocacy for the use of contractions in legal writing.)
Correcting Your Lack of Contractions
Afraid of turning two words into one? Give it a try. Prefer to just let someone else edit your book on the way to publication? Get started by submitting your book to Argyle Fox Publishing for consideration.