The word of the week is…


Transitive verb:

  1. to bring on oneself especially inadvertently
  2. to become affected with
  3. to establish or undertake by contract
  4. to establish (a marriage) formally
  5. to hire by contract <contract a lawyer
  6. to purchase (as goods or services) on a contract basis
  7. to reduce to smaller size by or as if by squeezing or forcing together
  8. to shorten (as a word) by omitting one or more sounds or letters

Intransitive verb:

  1. to make a contract
  2. to draw together so as to become diminished in size
  3. to become less in compass, duration, or length

Here are two examples from Jack London’s White Fang:

  • “Behind every steel-like contraction of a muscle, lay another steel-like contraction, and another, and another, apparently without end.”
  • “A tree, contracting in the cool of the night, made a loud noise.”


Write for five minutes, using the word “contract” in its different forms as frequently as you can. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section.

Also, extra credit if you use the word of the week in your daily practice!

Marriage Contract

My Practice:

She lived a contracted life. Her name shortened when she married from Hortense Filliblast—Orion to Mrs. Smythe. In olden times she would at least be Mistress Smythe of Firefly Underhill Farm, but as her name contracted so did her life. Moving into a rural community, she had to give up her career in the big city. No longer assistant to the undersecretary of the Minister at the Department of Noise Control, she became housewife, a serving position, losing even more of her. She came to the country a healthy 170 pounds, as the months disappeared so she contracted, imploding in on herself. Her husband didn’t call her Mrs. Smythe, he called her Hottie, occasionally stretching her name to Hottie Tottie when he imbibed Père Magloire, the apple brandy, he was so fond of.

In contrast Bill Smythe expanded after the contract of marriage. He became William Henry Smythe Esquire, gentleman farmer according to the business cards he produced on his wedding day. As his wife discovered the delights of hospitality and culinary expertise, he expanded his girth and his appreciation for good food. William didn’t actually farm, he contracted out the work. He sat at his desk and watched as he contracted gout like a foal with a contracted foot, high blood pressure and a permanent ruddy complexion.

The Smythes, as they were called in the neighbourhood were looked on with curiosity. Quirky, weird, a little bit odd were bantered across breakfast tables, no one hit on the truth. No one even came clear. The Smythes expanding and contracting dreamed of contractions but as each year rolled by so did their chances of having any, contracting forever, their family. The only condition they wanted to contract, they couldn’t.

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let’s Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).