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Monday, July 07, 2014

THE ABC'S OF HOW 'NOT' to WRITE SPECULATIVE FICTION: P is for PURPLE PROSE

SO, WHAT IS PURPLE PROSE YOU MIGHT ASK? Here's an example:

“Purple prose putridly punishes us with its passion for picky, although some might say princely detail, wherein we are plummeted into the pits of priggishness masquerading as style and thusly irritated by an indigo mood, or, alternatively, lifted into such a heady euphoria of ecstasy that our lavender bosoms heave with the violet breathlessness of it, which, in the end, becomes an aversion to mauve.”

Purple prose can be kind of fun in a lone paragraph, but tolerance fades fast when an editor has to wade through 6,000 words of it. Purple prose isn't so much an expression of art, as of fashion. It's more concerned with how it looks and sounds, rather than with how it lives. Story is obstructed by style. The prose can be so convoluted and ornate, it becomes hard to follow. 

On the other hand, a little purple never hurts if you're using it in dialogue to depict a character who is flowery, fussy, self-involved, or clever to the point of being irritating or obtuse. Even so, as writers, we need to know when enough is enough.

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