I'm sure you all went to first grade and learned about contractions, so I'll skip the lecture on what they are and start with USE THEM.
Contractions are for everyone. As Kelly Mortimer put it at the ANWA Conference, unless you want your character to sound like a stuck-up, over-educated snob, use contractions. Everyone speaks in contractions.
Read this sentence out loud:
"I have had a really great time every time we have gone out together. I think we are meant for each other," she said dreamily.
Now aside from the general cheesiness of that statement, it really sounds out of place, doesn't it. Try this one:
"I've had a really great time every time we've gone out together. I think we're meant for each other," she said dreamily.
Rolls off the tongue a lot easier. :)
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I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.