To Joe: I'll concede that the language I used may appear unnatural since I was trying to make a point. With thought, although I don't see the difference between 'It's come to...' and 'It has come to...', in a formal letter I would probably use the latter, because our writing styles are often influenced by what those around us think, and I would not jeopardize my integrity at the expense of my ego. It's the same reason why I follow the rule of no or little adverbs in fiction. Language is, by its very nature, a communicative medium and so you have to adhere to, or at the very least, account for, the audience. I assure you, for example, that were I to write a formal letter to you, there would not be a contraction in sight.
Ian D. Mooby wrote:
Now I started the topic because I wanted to see what others thought. I was hoping somebody could actually come up with a rule, but it seems we are stuck on using contractions in formal writing. The writing on here is 99% of the informal type so why do we care what the rule is or isn't for formal writing?
Sorry, I thought you were asking for both formal and fictional and everything in-between. I agree with Roman about it not being so much about rules but about guidelines, so if that's what you're looking for, I propose these guidelines:
Formal: No, or few, contractions. (No one will argue why you have not used contractions, at least).
Fiction: Contractions are fine, so long as consistency is sound. (A historical king wouldn't use certain contractions). If you can pick up a modern fictional book and not find a single contraction, I would be extremely surprised.
Non-fiction: Personal and/or audience preference.