Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Writing Westerns and the Dreaded Contraction

The Use of Contractions in the Old West

To use, or not to use, contractions in a western that is. I ran across a review of a new western movie with the reviewer trashing it as not authentic to the old west period. The reason it was not authentic, according to the reviewer, was that the characters used contractions when speaking, which were not used in the old west.

Long story short, this is not true, the use of contractions in speaking the English language has been around for years, some can be found in English writings from centuries ago.  Mark Twain used hundreds of contractions in his works from the late 1800s.

It was all about the rhythm and cadence of the time that made the speech patterns different, not the lack of contractions.  Oh, and the absence of modern swear words that seem to have been fit into much of today's, old west literature and movies.

Some version of the old phrase, “If you got-um, smoke-um,” seems to fit here. If you have a place for a contraction and it is set in the old west, use it.  I find myself, along with many of the authors I read, using contractions more in dialogue than in the normal telling of the story – and I think that is the better place, and sometimes the only use for them.

Just my thoughts. Enjoy winter and all the time it affords to read and write. 

Now recovering, sort of - Day five of the flu, most unpleasant few days, stay healthy everyone. 

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