Do Not (Don’t) Tell Me I Cannot (Can’t) Use Contractions

I spent about a year and a half writing my book called Blue Skies.  This was the fastest I have ever written a book, and I considered it a personal triumph.

Blue Skies was a challenge to myself in many ways.  It deals with a group of people who, for reasons I shan’t go into here, live without emotions.  In addition to being emotionless, these individuals are also very proper in the way they speak.  Though they speak English, one notable exception is they do not use certain lazy “slang” terminology: we know these terms as “contractions”.

Although the book is written from third-person, I tried to write within the essence of the character who was most prominent in any scene.  This was generally Ra’idah.  Blue Skies is really her story.  Ra’idah is one of the individuals who has been raised her whole life without emotions and without contractions.  The challenge, then, came in writing a book without emotions and without contractions.  It’s harder than it may sound.  You can’t rely on facial expressions (no smiling, laughing, frowning, crying) or introspection on a characters feelings.  I was amazed at how often I use these to give a picture of my characters, of who they are.

Writing without contractions was, apparently, an easier adaptation for me.  I didn’t realize this until recently, however.  I am currently going through and doing a complete, tough, (hopefully) thorough editing and partial rewrite of my most recent manuscript (whose current title, Alyraekas, may be changing as part of the process).  Going back and delving into the beginning of this book, I started paying close attention to every word, how everything was structured and put together.  I started Alyraekas only a couple weeks after completing Blue Skies.  What I have found is in the early chapters of Alyraekas, I was still writing without contractions.  It really makes the writing much more stilted, almost awkward.  This worked for the nature and intent of Blue Skies, but it is not what I am generally going for in my writing.  It’s funny, though, how we can be so inadvertently influenced by, hey, our own writing!

– S.D. Bullard


~ by sdbullard on July 16, 2012.

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