Thursday, July 7, 2016

Prosey Much?

When I first started writing romance, I was told to buy a certain book that described actions in a 'romantic' way.  I remember one of those phrases, sort of.   It was something like 'she moved up on tiptoes to give him a kiss.'  The book was filled with phrases of this sort.  I used it a lot until I heard the phrase, 'purple prose.'

Huh?  What was that?

According to, purple prose is:

writing that calls attention to itself because of its obvious use of certain effects, as exaggerated sentiment or pathos, especially in an attempt to enlist or manipulate the reader's sympathies.

Or, in simpler terms, it's writing that's flowery, ornate, and outlandish.  It's way too dramatic, calling attention to itself.

I went back into my manuscripts and took out as much purple prose as I could.  It was bad, bad, bad.  It was for newbies.

So what is purple prose, really?  I consider it to be overwriting, over describing, and telling a story with too many words.  It's kind of like overacting--too many deliberate sighs and hand motions for a short sentence.

Here are a few examples:

With the cerulean sky brightly lit overhead, she bent to pick a limp daisy into her dainty hand, being certain not to break off the delicate petals.

Why not write:  She pulled the broken daisy and held it in her hand.


He tipped his head to touch his lips on hers, his brown long hair teasing her forehead.

How about:  He bent to kiss her, his lips touching hers.

Now most romance writers will put a bit more of a description in there, which is perfectly fine.  However, if you're writing a sci-fi or paranormal book, these more flowery descriptions appear odd.

So just know your genre, know your prose, and don't overdo.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


Don't be a Dickens: Avoiding Purple Prose Purple Prose
On Purple Prose: How to Gracefully Fix Problems on Zombie Nouns, Flowery Words, among Others

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