The Most Flowery of Language - Purple Prose
Okay, so what do you consider to be purple prose? What is it? Give us an example. Do you love it? Hate it? Find it tolerable or small doses? Or do you think all shades of violet wording should be destroyed?
Again, lots of questions to answer this month!
Okay, so what do you consider to be purple prose? What is it? Give us an example.
The word that springs to mind is 'flowery' - lots of descriptive words or decoration of plain text. It's what turns a woman sitting on a bench on a lawn into a seat with rustic wooden slats worn smooth by years of use as the woman with long, blonde hair, highlighted by the sun, sits there reading well-worn pages of letters, her bare feet in the bright green mown grass, the blades tickling her toes. That's actually not flowery enough really. It should also have smells, colours, and the way the sunlight falls through the nearby trees on to the grass.
Having said that, another description I've seen for purple prose is that it 'consists of words and phrases that sound stilted, overly descriptive, or cliché and is derived from a reference by the Roman poet Horace.'
Do you love it? Hate it? Find it tolerable or small doses? Or do you think all shades of violet wording should be destroyed?
Lots of people will say you should always avoid purple prose, but I like it when it's in the right place. If it's just description for description's sake then it annoys me, but when it's used to set a scene, or when a whole story is about the descriptions, then I do really enjoy reading it. I'm reading Affaire Royale by Nora Roberts at the moment, and her descriptions I think really do go as far as purple prose. She paints a wonderful picture of her settings which can often stretch to a page at a time, but they're always tied in with the story and not just there for the sake of it. She can really make you feel as though you're there in the story with the characters, and I think the main reason for that is the way she describes things - she uses colours, feelings, weather, what things are made of and how they interact to paint wonderful scenes.