Purple prose is explained as being too flowery, ornate, and over the top. Some people say it takes the emphasis off the plot and puts it on the writing, others say it disrupts the storyline and causes the reader to stumble. Yet I love purple prose. The depth of description that I find in long, lavish paragraphs of this forbidden art seem to entrance me into writing it myself. Am I a bad writer because of that? I don't think so; a portion of purpleness is needed to accompany the chunky, meaty scenes of your plot. Without that melodramatic poofiness, I fear my heart would fall apart.
So what is wrong with purple prose? Well, it can get you off track; if you start dipping into your scenery and pouring the oil all over how the flowers look, then...well, I'm afraid the reader wouldn't be very interesting. But you see, some authors are so great at writing purple prose that they make the story seem more real than anything.
For instance, Stephen Lawhead's second book of The Dragon King Saga is said to be purple. I read several complaints on Amazon about how he delved too deeply into the scenery and other unnecessary descriptions. To those people, I say "Pooh, pooh!" Lawhead did an excellent job! His prose was beautiful; it captivated my imagination and brought each scene alive in my mind's eye. I only wish I could write as he writes.
A famous example of purple prose can be seen in this excerpt of the first sentence from the novel Paul Clifford, written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.Do you see anything wrong with that? I find it beautiful! Just look at all the senses Edward is activating in that sentence. It just draws me into the story, and I love it when that happens.
So now I want to know your opinion on purple prose. What do you think of it? Do you like it? Admire it? Hate it? Despise it? Do you enjoy reading/writing it? Let me know in a comment :-)
Written in a Scrawl,