The Reform of a Plantser

I’m late to post today, because I’ve been plotting. *Insert wicked cackle here*

For weeks–well, truth be told, just about the entire summer–I’ve been stuck. Every time I open up WriteWay Pro to write, absolutely nothing comes. I have two stories halfway done, but they are both a hot mess.  Weak conflict, boring characters, yadda yadda. Now this has happened with every single book. I get to the middle and wham! No idea what to write next. I know how I want it to end, but I just can’t get it there. With the first two books, I did finally break through, but these two, not so much.

I finally decided to put them aside and work on something else for awhile, inspired by two things: one, the agent I pitched at RWA Nationals, who told me that the story I pitched (one of the hot messes above) would never sell; and two, the story idea I mentioned to her would be of interest, assuming I actually started to write it.

But I knew that this time my hybrid plantser style would never work. If I was going to sit down and write a book straight through, past “the dreaded middles,” I was going to have to learn to plot. *shudder* So I bought and read Blake Snyder‘s Save the Cat. I had halfheartedly browsed it before, even had a partially-finished beat sheet for my third book. But I didn’t really take it to heart until I read it all the way through, and finally understood what his beats actually meant. (Insert “duh” here.) So I roughed out a beat sheet for the new book, and it started to take shape, until I got to–yes, you guessed it–the middle.

Another week went by while I puzzled over this. I started to do some historical research, and as I hoped, it got the juices flowing, but I still had the middles problem. What was going to happen to these two people? For the past two days I have been digging through story tropes and story generators, and randomly Googling words that had to do with plots and story structures. Finally, today I found Jami Gold’s website, where she has tons of incredibly helpful posts for writers. Reading them, and then re-reading a few things in Save the Cat, was the final push I needed to figure out the middle, and voila, I now have a completed beat sheet for the next book. I wish I could thank Blake Snyder, but fortunately I can thank Jami. Thanks, Jami!  🙂

And now, I’m off to get some words on the page, but if you’re a writer, I hope you’ll feel free to share your thoughts on getting past those middles. What resources do you find helpful?

 

Grumpish about Grammar

This post is very late. I was in a super bad mood last Sunday and couldn’t think of anything I wanted to write, and I was too busy reading contest entries anyway.

Back in the spring I volunteered to serve as a first round judge in several contests. I actually love judging contests, but when I volunteered I stupidly failed to realize that all of the entries were due back in the same week. Nevertheless, I was happy to do it–it is great fun to read the entries and to help a writer (often a brand-new writer) learn a bit more about craft, and I never fail to learn something myself. Sometimes the entries are absolutely wonderful and truly a joy to read. Other times, not so much. This year, I had far more not-so-much entries than wonderful ones. Most of the entries I read had a great plot–original, interesting, and fun. Unfortunately, many of them were also riddled with errors in grammar and punctuation. Some had clearly not even been proofread, and were full of typographical errors and spelling mistakes.

As a result of this experience, I have spent the last few days wondering why writers would enter a contest without dealing with at least some of these problems. It is important to realize that a contest is, in some ways, a trial query. Most contests have agents and/or editors serving as final round judges. If you final, you get your work in front of one of them. If she likes it, she may request a partial manuscript, or even a full. And sometimes–as I can gratefully attest–an editor buys your book or an agent agrees to represent you. Why, then, would you not make your manuscript the very best it can be before submitting it? Especially because contests cost money?

Now, I will admit that the first time I entered a contest I had no idea what I was doing, and it is certainly possible that some of the writers I judged were in a similar place in their writing careers. My entry had many, many craft errors, but it had been carefully proofread. I learned a lot from the judges in that contest, and in my critiques of the entries I reviewed in the last couple of weeks, I tried to do the same for those writers.

My point here is two-fold: First, if you are an author, especially a published author, consider donating your time and expertise to juIMG_3137dge a contest. You will make a huge difference in a writer’s life, and you will learn something too.

Second, if you are a writer wishing to enter a contest, polish that manuscript! Proofread it–do not rely on spell check alone. Check your grammar. If you need to brush up on grammar rules, do so. Pick up a copy of Strunk and White. Go online–there are a lot of sites which offer help on grammar issues. For example, I like the Grammar Girl for short and sweet tips. There’s Grammarly, which scans your text for grammar and punctuation. (I’ve never used it, but it gets good reviews.) From the Write Angle has blog posts about grammar, craft, querying, and a bunch of other good stuff. Or just Google “grammar” and see what you get. Once you have these basics down, it’s much easier to focus on the craft–all those things that make you a better writer.

I’ve decided to stop whining and do something to help (hopefully). Once a month, starting next week, I’ll do a post on issues I’ve spotted in manuscripts, or things I’ve been curious about. If any of you have a grammar or craft question you’d like me to discuss, or if you’re interested in doing a guest post about your grammar pet peeve, or if you are better than I am at coming up with catchy names for my grammar posts (because honestly, who isn’t better at that than I am?), leave a comment here or drop me a line at marinmcginnis@yahoo.com.

 

Author Interview: Nina Croft

Apologies for my absence of late. June was crazy busy, and last week I was away for my anniversary–more on that in a future post!

My guest today is the very talented and prolific Nina Croft. Her latest book, The Spaniard’s Kiss, released this week. Welcome, Nina!

Portrait of writer Nicola Cleasby

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

My name is Nina Croft. I’m English but I live in southern Spain, in a beautiful area which lies between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

I first started writing a long time ago, when I was working as a volunteer in a remote village in Zambia on the banks of Lake Kariba. This was long before Kindles, and I ran out of books to read with alarming frequency (I had a book-a-day habit to feed!)  A tragedy of gargantuan proportions. My only recourse was to write my own and so I began. When I left Africa, I put writing aside for a while until I moved to Spain around ten years ago, when I started to seriously learn the craft, how to plot, write, edit. Now I’m totally hooked.

Wow! A tragedy indeed, but I’ll bet that was an amazing experience. What inspired you to write The Spaniard’s Kiss?

The opening scenes of my latest release, The Spaniard’s Kiss, take place in Spain, close to where I now live. It’s a remote area, far from any shops, and where the local shepherd still takes his goats out every day and the vineyards are ploughed by mules.  Some people love it, some people hate it. The reasons behind that fascinate me, and so I started The Spaniard’s Kiss. Rafe, the hero, has a grandfather who was a shepherd here, and he hates the place!

What does your writing process look like? 

I’m a total plotter, though I don’t stick to one method. I’ve tried both pantsing and plotting and everything in between but found that I’m happiest plotting out before I start writing, usually down to scene level. Two main reasons—the first is it gives me time to get to know my characters before I write. The other is that I like writing fast first drafts as I think the writing flows more naturally. I can only do that if I don’t have to keep stopping and deciding what happens next. It also means I can concentrate on character motivations and reactions to events while I’m writing, rather than on what those events actually are.

You have far more discipline than I do! What do you do when you’re not writing?

I don’t quite have a book-a-day habit anymore because I spend so much time writing, but I do still read a lot. Other things are: Horse riding, I have a beautiful mare called Gencianna. Walking, I have three dogs. Pig-grooming, I have a three-legged Vietnamese potbellied house pig. As you can see my spare time is pretty animal-orientated. Also this time of year, I swim and go to the beach when I can—I love the sea.

Sounds very bucolic. 🙂 What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the first draft of a book for Entangled Publishing’s Brazen line—hot contemporary romance. It’s called, Her Fantasy Husband, and it’s book 2 in a new series, Things To Do Before You Die. I’m also working on edits for the first book, His Fantasy Girl, which releases this October.

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?

Sadly, the book I wrote while working as a volunteer in Zambia, The Best of Intentions, will never see the light of day, but it was my first. Neither will my second or third…

I tend to work through story ideas when I’m driving or in the shower, both of which are, of course, places I can’t write anything down. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I talk through plot problems with my mare, Gencianna, while I’m out riding, though strangely she never seems to offer advice in return. I can sometimes get so engrossed that I suddenly realize where I am, and it’s not where I intended to be.

Probably much safer to do that on a horse than in a car, which is what occasionally happens to me. Can we see a photo of your writing space?

This is my writing nook, where I write first drafts on my laptop (when I can nudge Grunt out of the way.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Aww. Grunt is adorable! Neat freak or not so much?

Not even vaguely!

I knew there was a reason we get along. Other than “butt in chair,” what piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Write what you love—it’s the only thing that will keep you going when things get tough. Which they will.

Very good advice! Thanks so much for stopping by, Nina! Here’s more about Nina’s latest release:

One kisTHE-SPANIARD'S-KISS-1600x2400s will change their friendship forever…

Widow Isobel Sinclair knows it’s time to move on, and she believes the next chapter in her life involves a baby. All she needs is a man to help her with the finer details. Unfortunately, right now the only man in her life is her husband’s best friend, Rafael Sanchez. And an incredibly wealthy, super-hot player is not exactly family material.

That’s okay since she wants a baby sans the husband part.

Billionaire playboy Rafael has carefully hidden his longing for Isobel over the years. He’s wanted her from the moment they met. When desire sparks between them, Rafael faces a choice beyond imagining: give Isobel what she wants…or lose her forever. He has a good reason why a child can’t be in his future, but telling Isobel the truth could destroy everything.

Excerpt:

A dull ache throbbed behind his eyes, no doubt caused by lack of sleep and exacerbated by the onset of insanity. That was all it could be—Isobel Sinclair was driving him mad. It was two days since she’d made her preposterous proposition, and he hadn’t felt entirely sane since.

Every time he turned around she was there—talking to some man. He hadn’t realized there were so many men about, tall ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones. Their appearance didn’t seem to matter to Bella. Perhaps he should give her a little lesson in genetics, point out that she should be a bit more discerning if she was looking for someone to father her children.

Available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0105VHBCS

Find Nina on Social Media:

Author Website: http://www.ninacroft.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nina_Croft
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NinaCroft.Writer
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/rZ5rz

 

Author Interview: AE Jones

Today I am honored to welcome NEORWA chapter sister, 2013 Golden Heart winner, and two-time 2015 RITA Finalist AE Jones. Thanks so much for visiting, AE!

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

AE JonesThanks for having me here today, Marin! I live in Northeast Ohio in a small town. I have been reading since I was able to hold a book in my hands and I have been writing since my twenties. I got serious about writing paranormal romances and urban fantasies about six years ago.

What inspired you to write your Mind Sweeper series?

Believe it or not, my Mind Sweeper series stemmed from a joke. I wanted to write about a woman who worked with supernatural and I flippantly thought to myself one day “An angel, a demon, and a vampire walked into a bar…ha, ha, ha.” But what if it wasn’t a joke? What if it really happened? How would someone deal with the aftermath? That is the first line of Mind Sweeper and that’s how my series came to be.

The humor and sarcasm interwoven in the stories are because I love, love, love the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel universe that Joss Whedon created. To me humor makes the sad and scary parts of the story that much more. It’s a great foil.

That is the best first line. I love the Buffy universe too–I’ve been binge watching Buffy and Angel on Netflix, since I never watched it when it originally aired. 

What does your writing process look like?

I am a total pantser. Which can be difficult because I write mysteries in my stories and so there are plot threads that need to be tied up. I do normally have a general idea of the ending, but then as I write the story I’ll have these ‘OMG’ moments where something will come to me and it goes into the story. I also write my chapters out of order too. When a scene comes to me I have to write it down even if it’s at the back of the book.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Sleep. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. I have a day job and then I have my writing job in the evenings. When I’m in relaxation mode I’ll usually read or go out to dinner with friends. And a special treat for me is taking a nap (and now I’ve gone full circle back to the beginning of this answer).

What are you working on now?

I am currently in edits for Sentinel Lost, the fifth book in my Mind Sweeper series. That novel should be coming out in September and I am also working on the first book of a new series that should come out late fall.

Great! I know I am looking forward to new books from you. 🙂

I tend to work through story ideas when I’m driving or in the shower, both of which are, of course, places I can’t write anything down. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I do a lot of ‘book thinking’ in the shower too! I’ve had to put a notebook by my bed since I have a tendency to come up with things as I drift to sleep or am just waking up in the morning. I think it’s because my subconscious is free to roam! I also walk two miles every day and I think through my plot and ideas when I’m walking too. Although I sometimes have to stop and type an idea in my phone so I don’t lose it!

Share a photo of your writing space.

?

Here is a picture of my office and yes, more often than not Dillon, my cat, is perched right next to my laptop. I have to stop and pet him periodically or he moves in front of the keyboard. And that is a magic wand hanging on the wall and a tiara sitting on my lamp. The magic wand is because I need all the help I can get and the tiara I wear on release days for my books. I call release days my ‘kick butt princess’ days. I usually will post a tiara picture on my blog as part of the celebration too!

LOL. Dillon looks very serious.

How do you come up with character names?

This is a hard one for me. Character names can be tricky. Oftentimes I’ll name a character and then as he or she develops I realize that the name I chose for them is not right. And since my series has somewhat of a supernatural UN vibe, I have to look for Russian names and French names and Irish names, etc. I spend a lot of time on the internet on baby name sites!

In one of my books I changed the hero’s name three times and the heroine’s name twice. Thank goodness for the find and replace feature!

novellas 3d boxset copyThe Mind Sweeper Novellas (Box Set)

Discover the Mind Sweeper series through the eyes of Jean Luc and Talia in these two novellas.

The Fledgling – A Novella

Vampire Jean Luc Delacroix has been alive for nearly four hundred years. Alive, but not really living. This changes when he meets newly turned vampire, Talia. Feisty and beautiful, Talia is the first female Jean Luc has been attracted to in centuries. But when he finds out she is also a bounty hunter who is interfering with his investigation of a supernatural serial killer, he pushes her away for her and his own good.

Bitten and thrust into the supernatural world against her will, Talia wants nothing more than to do her job. She doesn’t have time to deal with an overbearing, ridiculously sexy vampire. But Jean Luc and Talia butt heads on their single-minded crusade to stop a murderer. And unless they can set aside their troubled pasts and learn to trust each other, they may never have an opportunity to explore their true feelings. Especially when they face off with the killer.

The Pursuit – A Novella

Thirty years after their initial meeting, Jean Luc Delacroix and Talia Walker once again cross paths. After seeing Talia again, Jean Luc’s feelings reignite. This time he will do whatever it takes to make her a permanent part of his life. Talia learned everything she knows about love—and about being a vampire—from Jean Luc. And when she comes face to face with Jean Luc again, she wonders if her continued independence is as important as being with the vampire she still loves.

Before either can acknowledge their feelings, they are embroiled in a deadly case of a vampire draining humans. In the midst of an investigation that threatens the very foundation of the vampire nation, can Jean Luc and Talia finally find the courage to follow their hearts? Or will the killer destroy them first?

EXCERPT: Jean Luc is teaching Talia how to be a vampire. In this excerpt, they are just starting to explore but yet fight their attraction to each other. I like it because it is an interesting interplay of tension with a splash of humor.

It had been seven days since the killer last struck. Seven days of little to no headway. Seven days of spending every moment with Talia and her lavender essence, rich skin, and chocolate eyes. Jean Luc stared at her until she turned toward him, her eyes widening under his heated scrutiny.

After a moment, her mouth quirked and she took a step closer to him. “Can I help you with something?”

“Yes. Tell me how you would fight someone much larger than yourself.”

“I would avoid it.”

“And if you cannot?” he pushed.

“Carry a big gun?”

Buy the Mind Sweeper novella box set here: 
Amazon
iTunes
Kobo

You can find out more about AE Jones here:
Website: aejonesauthor.com
Twitter: @aejonesauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aejones.author1

 

Five Reasons to Go to a Writers’ Conference

I spent this weekend at my RWA chapter’s Cleveland Rocks Romance Conference, which was wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, I thought I’d share with you some reasons why, if you’re a writer, you should attend a writers’ conference too.

1. You meet other writers.

Writing is a solitary occupation. We spend a lot of time in our own heads, which is generally a wonderful place to be, but it does us all good to get out of there for a while and meet like-minded people. We can learn from each other’s experiences, kick ideas around, make new friends, and laugh a lot.

2. You learn some new things.

Conferences include workshops about various aspects of the writing business. Our conference, for example, included an editor/agent panel on what’s hot in romance and tips on writing an attention-grabbing first page, as well as workshops on Disorganized Organized Revisions by Hanna Martine, Using Social Media by Mindy McGinnis, and Romantic Suspense by Carla Neggers.

3. You get to hobnob with famous and not-yet-so-famous authors.

A not-so-famous author pic I shamelessly stole from Miranda Liasson

Conferences usually include at least one best-selling super-famous author who gives a keynote speech and/or teaches a workshop–our keynote speaker this year was Carla Neggers. You can meet them and talk to them. They will happily autograph a book for you, and have their picture taken with you. The not-yet-so-famous authors will eagerly do the same, mostly because we are so happy anyone is paying attention to us at all.

<— A not-yet-so-famous author pic I shamelessly stole from Miranda Liasson

4. You can sometimes relax and kick back with editors and agents.

Our conference includes a gathering in the hotel bar after the Friday evening panel. Editors and agents are not scary at all when they’ve had a couple of drinks. Although one does have to be careful not to drink more than they do, because that can get embarrassing. Or so I’ve heard…

5. You have an opportunity to pitch your books to those agents and editors, face to face.

Although the prospect is really quite terrifying for introverted writers (especially me, as I haven’t done it yet), people tell me it’s not so bad. The advantage is that you have an editor or agent’s rapt attention for 5-10 minutes to tell them what your book is about. They can ask questions about it and other things you’ve written, an opportunity not provided by a written query.

Bonus reason: Books!!

But peIMG_2587rhaps one of the best reasons to attend a writers’ conference is the books. Some free, some not so free, some autographed, some not. Conferences are an excellent way to remind ourselves why we got into this crazy writing business in the first place–because we love books.

This year’s haul —>

Author Interview: Abigail Owen

Today I welcome author Abigail Owen, whose novel, Andromeda’s Fall, was released by The Wild Rose Press in December 2014. Me

Thanks for visiting, Abigail!

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

My name is Abigail Owen. I was raised in Texas but now live in northern California. I’ve been writing all my life. I finished my first book in 2009, but didn’t do much with it until 2012. Since then I’ve been on a non-stop journey and loving every second.

What inspired you to write Andromeda’s Fall (fabulous title, by the way!)?

I LOVE shifters in just about every form. Being from an area where mountain lions have been sighted in my neighborhood, I find them beautiful and fascinating. This book started with a single scene in my head of a mountain lioness perched on a stone outcropping. She’s on patrol and above her is a male mountain lion who’s observing her behavior. That was it.

What does your writing process look like? 

I am mostly a pantser with a little plotter thrown in. I typically start with one scene in my head as the starting point (not necessarily the start of the book). I do a character breakdown and attempt a very, very brief bulleted “key plot points” list. Then I start writing. My first draft is fast and often takes me in unexpected directions. Once the bulk is on paper, then I “officially” plot it out. 2nd (and so on) drafts I go fill in the gaps and smooth it all out.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Until this past May, I was a business analyst for Intel. (Yes I love numbers and words. Weird, right?) Now I’m a full-time author and mother, which is a dream come true.

 What are you working on now?

The second book in the Shadowcat Nation series, Sarai’s Fortune, is currently in the editing process at The Wild Rose Press. It should be out this year (date TBD – fingers crossed for late spring). I have another book, Blue Violet, the 1st book of my Svatura series, also in the editing process at Wild Rose. Release date on that is also TBD 2015. I am writing the third book in the Shadowcat Nation series, Tieryn’s Fury, now and am hoping to have it to my editor by end of April. After that, who knows!

Who is your favorite literary hero? Heroine? Villain?

Hero: Aragorn (though Mr. Darcy is a close 2nd). I love that Aragorn turned his back on his fate and even on love, that he has this great character arc of growth from the beginning of the series where he’s a bad ass to the end of the series where he’s king.

Heroine: Elizabeth Bennett – smart, sassy, funny, kind, a good friend and sister, willing to admit her own faults (eventually). Love her.

Villain: Snape. I know he’s not exactly a villain, but he is. This is another character arc I love – from jerk to murderer (we think) to lost and lonely little boy to hero and namesake. I love characters who develop like that.

How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?

I have probably 20 books started that were never finished. I won’t go back and finish them either because I cannibalize them. I’ll take my own previously written scenes and pull them into a book I will finish now. I’ve used up most of them by this point, so they’ve all seen the light of day, just in unexpected ways. 🙂

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Very cool to be able to move stuff with your mind. (Or maybe I’m just really lazy. LOL)

AndromedasFall_w9277_750 (1) (1)Andromeda’s Fall (Shadowcat Nation #1)

Andromeda Reynolds is being hunted. After witnessing her mother’s violent death at the hands of a pack of wolf shifters, Andie has devoted her life to protecting her community of cougar shifters from a similar fate. But now, a greater threat lies within her own dare, and she must run. If she stays, Kyle Carstairs will force their mating, seeking the added political power their union would provide.

Andie would rather chew off her own foot than end up with Kyle. Though, knowing him, she won’t live long either way. Andie’s only hope of survival is to mate Jaxon Keller, the Alpha of the Keller Dare with which she is seeking asylum. But before she can get to him, Andie must first go through A.J., one of the Alpha’s Protectors.

What Andie doesn’t realize is that A.J. has secrets of his own. All Andie knows is that the incredibly frustrating shifter insists on challenging her story, her skills, her trust… and her heart.

Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo | The Wild Rose Press

ANDROMEDA’S FALL is one book that you need to have mapped out time to read because it will not let you put it down. From the first page when the injured Andie jumps through the window into the Keller home to the fantastic (I didn’t want it to end) ending, you will be enthralled. –Fresh Fiction

Excerpt:

The stranger said nothing for several long moments, holding eerily still, his eyes taking in every detail. Andie didn’t move or speak. She knew he was sizing her up just as she was assessing him. She also knew what he’d see—a slip of a girl who’d inherited her mother’s bronzed Brazilian beauty. Male cougar shifters rarely saw what she really was and frequently underestimated her.

“I’m not going to ask how you got in here. Clearly, our security needs reviewing.”

Andie didn’t betray her satisfaction at his comment. “I’m sure it’s fine. Very few measures would work to keep me out. Or in.”

I found you.”

Andie merely shrugged. “Off night.” In more ways than one.

The Shadowcat Nation Pinterest Board

Award-winning author, Abigail Owen was born in Greeley, Colorado, and raised in Austin, Texas. She now resides in Northern California with her husband and two adorable children who are the center of her universe.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. A fourth generation graduate of Texas A&M University, she attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing). However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

 

The Surprising Truth About Contractions

I use contractions when writing dialogue. When I don’t, the language can seem stilted and unnatural. I have long wondered how common contractions were in days past, but I was afraid to look it up and find that they weren’t common, because then I would have to make a decision: use historically inaccurate language to make it sound more natural, or use historically accurate language that seemed odd to modern readers. But when one of my critique partners objected to the word “can’t” in the first line of my book as historically inaccurate, I finally looked it up.

Did the Victorians use can’t, won’t, and other words regularly in ordinary speech? The answer is a resounding yes, as did many, many generations before them.

The brilliant book English Through the Ages by William Brohaugh (if you write historical fiction you must have this on your shelf) notes that the following words were in use before the seventeenth century:

1605: we’d, you’d
1610: they’ll
1615: they’ve
1625: it’s
1640: don’t, who’d
1655: can’t, won’t
1665: I’d, shan’t
1670: ma’am
1680: they’d
1695: you’ve

Other contractions that we think of as modern date from the 16th century, and were in use before:

1570: I’ll
1580: we’ll
1595: I’m, she’ll, they’re, you’ll, you’re

Others came later:

1745: I’ve, mustn’t, she’s, we’ve
1780: ain’t
1820: t’aint
1860: doesn’t, it’ll
1865: we’re
1890: mightn’t
1905: it’d
1970: ’til

photo (4)These words were in existence, but did anyone use them? Definitely.

Although she used contractions sparingly, Jane Austen’s characters did say “can’t,” “don’t,” “won’t,” and “I’ll”: “[Y]ou can’t think how disappointed he will be if you don’t come to Cleveland.” (Sense and Sensibility, written 1798, published 1811) “…I am sure it will be too much for Kitty. Won’t it, Kitty?” (Pride and Prejudice, written 1797, published 1813) “Captain Harville holds himself quite engaged, I’ll answer for it.” (Persuasion, written 1816, published posthumously 1818)

 

 

In North and South, written in 1854, Elizabeth Gaskell used “can’t” 45 times, “don’t” 79 times, “won’t” 49 times, “doesn’t” 10 times, “I’ve” 40 times, “you’ve” 56 times, and, well, you get the idea. Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, Thomas Hardy, the Bronte sisters, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain–every one of them used contractions in their books.

There are many times when I’m writing that I will want to use a word, only to find it didn’t exist at the time.  Most contractions, fortunately, don’t fall into that category.

What words seem modern to you that might not be?

 

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