Editing: Can or Can’t

img_6672-1Editing is like cleaning dishes after you’ve made a gourmet meal. Or sewing the holes in your jeans, you know what generation I am from, instead of working on a new dress project. For me editing is the least favorite part of writing, although, marketing may take a close second.

Some of the things writer’s like are: playing with words, developing plots, and expressing their voice on a topic. I was told a long time ago part of writing is “rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite”. Today we’ll talk about what I have learned on the use of contractions.

In 2007, writersdigest.com stated, “As for novels, short stories and other forms of writing where your own style is required, it’s up to you whether you can, cannot or can’t use them.”

In 2015, Reddit said, “There is no rule.”

In 2016, helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com announced, “…almost everyone commonly uses contraction in almost all forms of communication, writers can hardly avoid contractions in dialogue without sacrificing realism.”

In 2020, louiseharnbyproofreader.com declared, “…we want to write natural dialogue – dialogue that flows with the ease of real-life speech – contractions work.”

So what does YourDictionary.com tell us? “When writing dialogue in a novel or play, contractions help reflect how a character actually speaks.” Some weird contractions are: ain’t, ma’am, ’tis, ’twas, y’all. In other words: is not, madam, it is, it was, and you all.

In closing, as I was writing my son handed me a copy of On Writing Well, by William Zinsser, one million copies sold and the 30th anniversary edition. Don’t I feel special. His comment, “Your style will be warmer and truer to your personality if you use contractions like I’ll and won’t and can’t when they fit comfortably into what you’re writing. ” “There’s no rule against such informality – trust your ear and you instincts.”

This ma’am, is gonna use contractions in her dialogue and may’b in other parts of her story. It ain’t a problem unless one over does’t. All kidding aside, the use of a good contraction at the right time is more than acceptable.

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