Storyville: Avoiding Purple Prose in Your Fiction

So, I’m either the perfect person to write this column, or exactly the wrong person to do it, because quite often in the past my own writing has been called “purple.” I disagree with that assessment, at least in regards to my current work, the last couple of years. But there you have it. Let’s dig in deeper, shall we, and see what this is all about? WHAT IS PURPLE PROSE? I’ll pull this directly from Wikipedia, because I think it’s a pretty good definition: In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work…Purple prose is criticized for desaturating the meaning in an author’s text by overusing melodramatic and fanciful descriptions. And you know what? I agree with that definition. If I’m reading something and I can feel that the author is trying too hard, and giving me too much setting or language when it’s […]

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