Contractions are Killing Me!

And I don't mean that I'm having a baby. I can't even speak on that since I had two c-sections (too much TMI, sorry!) Anyway, I decided that before I try to submit Obsidian I was going to go back through and see what needed to be edited. After all, it may have been edited professionally and my copy editor is now a multi-published mystery author, but there is always room for improvement. Or in my case, I think there was a mansions worth of room left. Let me explain...

Back in college I took a wonderful writing course from a Professor who was published in Literary Fiction (I gave it caps because that was the way she talked). She was wonderful and gave me tons of encouragement, but she was very specific about the tone of the writing and one of her biggest pet peeves was the use of contractions. Because she was nice to me and encouraging, I wanted to make her happy with my work and so... Yup, I cut all the contractions from my writing. Not a single we're, they've, couldn't or I'm in the whole bunch. But unfortunately it didn't help my fiction writing. I've been told before that I have a good voice, but my sentences tend to be more formal than most editors like. That's because the voices in my head have been well trained to root out any contractions and speak in a more formal tone. Dang!

Now, I'm given the odious task of adding contractions back into my work. Don't laugh! I can hear you. Yes, I need to actually add them. Yesterday I spent the day go through and changing the following:
we are
they had
it would
could not
should have
I am
would have
he had (she had)
I would
You would (yes, I know I could just look for "would" and change them both)
I will
you are
he would

This took me the better part of the day and then I ended up the love fest by condensing a 5 page synopsis to a 2 page synopsis. It's really a love/hate thing. I love the work, but for those who think it's easy... think again. The upside is that if I do these corrections enough I'm hoping that my brain will rewire itself. It's only been *& years. But since I'm stubborn, I'll just keep plugging away it.

What are the bad habits in your writing that you picked up along the way?





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