Purple Prose and Writing Styles – [Literature and Writing]

So I ran into this post on Tumblr.

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Some flowery writing is going to scratch you where you itch and some is going to bore you to death. Either way, I don’t think any of us want to get in the habit of using flowery language to describe a simple setting, character design, scene, or anything else. That’s what editing is for, right? Well, I also don’t want to be negligent of those who are picky with their diction. Sometimes we know that elaboration for something that could be described simply is necessary like the narrator’s tone, for example, or for characterization. Where’s the happy medium?

While researching this topic, I ran into a wonderful YouTube channel called Reedsy, a London-based, “…award-winning community of over 100,000 book publishing professionals,” according to LinkedIn. After watching this very helpful video on purple prose, I immediately added them to the list of resources to tap into later.

Learning about purple prose helped me think about how our mentality shifts when we’re writing in different forms of storytelling. I wanted to finally work on my short story last weekend and it was really hard to pull my mind away from fantasy novel writing. The first 900 words weren’t even elaborate. My narrator was info-dumping due to my insecurities–”it’s a fantasy short story, so I need to worldbuild and tell you the details about every culture involved”– yeah, no. A novel is more of a journey, from a stroll through unfamiliar woods to cautiously crossing a battleground; a short story is a quick trip across town, but the trip was far from ordinary or expected. You don’t want to go purple when you’re writing either. Purple prose is more unwanted projection than progress (excuse the alliteration). Being elaborate and emotive doesn’t require dumping extra adjectives and adverbs. This clicked when I thought about writing poetry or music.

I compared short story writing to writing a song or a poem because I get very picky with word choice and composition when I’m songwriting. Poetry has a bit more of a flow, but editing poems makes me particular. So in my experience, I’m not necessarily saying that short story writing or avoiding purple prose means make your narration robotic and bland; I’m saying consider if your story and your audience will favor your “dark and stormy” tendencies at certain places. Audiences don’t really like repetition or extravagance without meaning. For example, the chorus of a song is repeated 2-3 times during a performance and we don’t mind it if it’s harmonized with the melody, connects the verses and the bridge well, and ends the song in a satisfactory way. The person in the Tumblr post argued there was nothing wrong with “dark and stormy” because it gave you setting and tone; for that reader “dark and stormy” harmonized with the descriptions given later. This is what Shaylynn addressed in the video: “Dense or elaborate language doesn’t have to be purple if it’s substantial and adds to the story.” We’ve had elaborate writers for centuries, but the ones who stand out are the ones with masterful diction in their storytelling.

Time for an ungoth confession…I used to think Edgar Allan Poe was in the purple prose realm when I was a younger, less critical-thinking reader. After reading some analyses of his writing in college, my perspective changed. Poe was actually quite meticulous. Lovecraft is the same. So, if you break down someone else’s writing or your own writing and find descriptions, DIALOGUE (this is a big one), or anything else that isn’t contributing to the plot and theme of your work, you’re going purple. Get rid of it.

Hope this helps anyone who needs it and be sure to check out Reedsy because they seem pretty reliable.

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And a little something for editors who need to be in the right state of mind to know what to remove and keep…

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A Contemplation Coma

All right, I disappeared for a bit again. I had a busy week and needed a few days to myself. Now to say a few things.

Many thanks to the feedback on my article on Stoker’s Dracula and the Epistolary Narrative. I have the utmost gratitude for those who are sharing it and taking the analysis to heart. If you’d like to share it with fellow writer friends on Facebook, go on ahead and follow Authentikei afterwards.

Yesterday, I did a sketch on the computer and I’m pretty stoked about it. I plan to follow through (if I can get through the dreaded lineart phase…) and make an art page…because why not?

Today, I worked on my horror short story. I really want to start publishing these stories because they’re related to the fantasy world of my novel series. Just because the novel isn’t ready yet doesn’t mean I can’t start sharing my world with others. I’ll make a more thorough post about short story writing another time because I learned something very interesting about my writing mentality while working.

To end on the update, I wanted to talk about my mission statement a bit because these past few days have been a “contemplation coma”. I never stop thinking about…everything and desperately need the platform to express myself and thanks to those of you who have supported my work and followed me, I know I’m not the only one. So I’ve decided, my long term goal will be to make Authentikei a non-profit for my fellow artistic philosophers. I do have a mission and a vision, but the business plan is a work in progress. Not only is this project motivated by my own experiences and my fellow thinkers, but I really am tired of those who feel a strong connection to the humanities and social sciences degrading themselves because it’s not “a career path that makes good money” or whatever people are saying nowadays to put down the studies that value human nature and existentialism. I know America is in such a strange economic crisis (I call it strange because it seems more complicated than it should be…) and I’m not proposing that I have the solution to all of our financial problems, but this is a time we need to support ourselves more than ever.

I believe that’s why we have more websites promoting “patron” programs. Having patrons was a common way to make some money in the past and it’s making a comeback. I’m hoping the platform I create encourages reciprocal support, but not just through finance; support also reinforces us to circulate our work and develop the bravery to express our personal philosophies and have healthy discourse with those who agree, disagree, or are indifferent. Too many of us feel like we’re not being heard or that we don’t have enough of [blank] to do what we love and resolve the internal or external turmoil in life (which is probably why so many of us scream at each other via social media). This patron way of thinking is encouraging us to take a moment to listen and invest some time to really listen to someone then decide from there whether or not we want to invest even more. I just think it’s cool to encourage that kind of unity. The rat race needs to be cancelled so we can be cooperative, authentic, and functional rather than competitive. We’re not there yet, but we’re working towards it. I hope as I continue to express my inner truth and manifest funding through my creativity, that I will be able to give back and support those who need it. I mean receiving and giving back is a thing that already happens! It just doesn’t seem like that…we’re too caught up in our misery…and that’s why I support artistic expression with philosophy. Yes, it’s good that we can be there for each other, but even in a perfect world, dealing with our internal problems is our responsibility.

More to come…

Oh and…I’m wondering about making a paranormal page. Would that be too much? I’m just such a nerd for paranormal instances. Yeah…I can figure out how to infuse the paranormal with philosophy and I bet I’m not alone in that (this is probably how metaphysics came to be even though they are quite different, lol).

First Draft Deadline Extended to June 21st and Publishing Short Horror Stories

After a restful day, I’ve decided I’ll have my first draft finished by the summer solstice. I think that works out. Litha would be a wonderful way to celebrate my accomplishment.

Once the first draft is complete, I need to brush up on my editing, so I thought writing up a few short horror stories, editing them, and publishing them somewhere (probably Kindle Direct Publishing) would be a good way to review Editing Fiction 101. My editing will get sharper and I’ll be able to polish SS: Initiation with confidence.

I also plan on releasing more music. I know I’ve said that repeatedly, but I truly am ready to make this happen. I’m just the type of person that needs to work on one project at a time and make sure I hit certain milestones before moving on to the next one. I used to be quite the multitasker, but keeping it simple is much more fulfilling for me.

Did you know this first novel draft is almost 400 pages on Microsoft Word (double spaced, 12pt. font) ? I’m pretty proud of that lol.

More updates later. I’m going to enjoy the weekend.