Sunday, March 15, 2009

Purple prose

Friday, while doing my usual search through the Absolute Write website I found a topic about one particular book deemed filled with what others referred to as “Purple prose.” I had heard mention of the term before and had a basic idea of what it was, but today I’ve decided it might be interesting to lean the exact definition and maybe read around to learn a few ways to avoid it.

*Maybe I should mention at this point that while the thread talks about Purple prose it also uses some examples from a few erotic pages of a novel, and the comments in the thread are also probably not something you want your child to read so be warned.

Purple Prose defines it as “writing that calls attention to itself because of its obvious use of certain effects, as exaggerated sentiment or pathos, esp. in an attempt to enlist or manipulate the reader's sympathies.”

I found a longer definition on Wikipedia:
“Purple prose is a term of literary criticism used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It also refers to writing that employs certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader's response.”

Well, while I was successful in getting a definition for Purple prose I wasn’t able to find any clear tips on it. I guess maybe I didn’t look hard enough. Either way, I learned something new, and what I’ve taken from this whole research attempt was to watch what I write carefully.

Oh, and though it’s an older post another writer, David Malasarn (The Literary Lab) wrote about Purple prose if you’re looking for more to read about it.

Maybe someone has an example they'd like to share here for fun?
(Just mind the language)

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