March 29th, 2017

Fireworks Delight

Writing Excuses 12.13: Beautiful Prose, Purple Prose

Writing Excuses 12.13: Beautiful Prose, Purple Prose

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2017/03/26/12-13-beautiful-prose-purple-prose/

Key points: "We're all purple on occasion, it's a guilty pleasure for a lot of us." What's the problem? Patches of purple prose in an otherwise normal story that breaks the flow. Good writing in the wrong place. Overuse of bad metaphors, fancy long words, and thesaurizing! Avoiding it? Take a fresh look, or let someone else read it. Watch beginnings of books or chapters, where we often overdo things and try too hard. Instead of two paragraphs on 20 foot stilts, try elevating all your prose a couple of inches. Metaphors are better than similes. Watch the adverbs and adjectives -- use the right ones, don't overdo. Adverbs often mean compressed storytelling -- expand it! Replace verb and adverb with a better verb. Think about the story purpose behind your description. Be judicious, use expressive prose where you need an impact. Use purple prose, especially in dialogue, to set a character apart.

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[Brandon] We're going to go ahead, and we're going to pitch at Howard some homework to us.
[Howard] I'm pitching the homework at them.
[Brandon] Okay.
[Howard] All right. One of the writing rules that is so often read to us is "Put away the thesaurus. Just write using your words." Here's your homework. Take a paragraph that you've written. Get out the thesaurus. Replace as many of the words in that paragraph as you can. Break it. Painted so purple that the color purple feels ashamed to have its name associated with it. Just go overboard. Then take a step back and look at it. Ask yourself why it broke. Sometimes, the way to figure out how something is broken is to deliberately go too far. This is your excuse to take it too far.
[Brandon] Excellent. That sounds like a lot of fun, actually.
[Dan] I look forward to reading all of those, on the website.
[Brandon] Yeah. Post those for us. We want to read those.
[Piper] Yes.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses.… Oh. You know what? What if they took paragraphs from our writing?
[Dan] Oh, yes! Oh that's brilliant.
[Piper] Do that!
[Dan] You can do your own, but if you want to take something from one of our books…
[Laughter]
[Dan] Please.
[Piper] Anything by Piper J. Drake. I would love to see you take a paragraph of one of my things. Preferably one of the PG-rated scenes.
[Laughter]
[Dan] If you can take something, say that you've broken it, and it's actually just verbatim, and you can trick people, that would be fantastic.
[Piper] Yes. I want to see this. Please do.
[Brandon] Okay. Oh, this is going to be awesome.
[Howard] Okay. This is supposed to be homework, not a social media game.
[Brandon] Okay, okay. You're out of excuses. Now go write.