Serious Case Of Purple Prose

#1
At first, I thought it was some kind of Shakespearian reference, in which case I would have thanked my reviewers for comparing my writing to being similar to Shakespear. Sadly, though, it's not. I just found out what it was, and I've been suffering a terminal case since the beginning of my writing career. Does anyone else relate? And how did you deal with it?
I edit my chapters countless times, but the sentences still feel strange. I have no idea what to do, and I'm afraid this idea will get to my head.

Re: Serious Case Of Purple Prose

#5
I took a quick look, and I see what those reviewers are saying. I think you have a lot of potential for creating vivid, evocative imagery, but certain aspects can also come off as self-indulgent if you're not careful.

A few tips:

-As an exercise, try going through each chapter and cutting 10%, or even 20% of the words while keeping the content the same. I think you have some good words and imagery in there, it's just a matter of learning to say more with less.

-Try writing in first-person or first-person limited as opposed to third-person omniscient. IMO, prose is less likely to feel purple when it comes from a specific character rather than an unseen narrator. And while purple prose isn't popular these days, narrative voice definitely is. Try to make the prose a mix of your own words, and words/phrases that your POV character would say. This way, readers will feel a stronger, more personal connection to your character (and the story in general.)

-Remembers that readers care about characters first, and things like setting and worldbuilding second. If a description isn't directly relevant to your main character, consider cutting it. 

Hope that helps!

Re: Serious Case Of Purple Prose

#8

David Wrote: I took a quick look, and I see what those reviewers are saying. I think you have a lot of potential for creating vivid, evocative imagery, but certain aspects can also come off as self-indulgent if you're not careful.

A few tips:

-As an exercise, try going through each chapter and cutting 10%, or even 20% of the words while keeping the content the same. I think you have some good words and imagery in there, it's just a matter of learning to say more with less.

-Try writing in first-person or first-person limited as opposed to third-person omniscient. IMO, prose is less likely to feel purple when it comes from a specific character rather than an unseen narrator. And while purple prose isn't popular these days, narrative voice definitely is. Try to make the prose a mix of your own words, and words/phrases that your POV character would say. This way, readers will feel a stronger, more personal connection to your character (and the story in general.)

-Remembers that readers care about characters first, and things like setting and worldbuilding second. If a description isn't directly relevant to your main character, consider cutting it. 

Hope that helps!


I spent so much time designing the world, I feel like my characters follow shallow underdog stories. Thank you! I'll do a better character design, that focuses less on their powers and more on them

Re: Serious Case Of Purple Prose

#9
I personally am inclined towards detail when possible, because I have vivid ideas and sights and experiences that I want to impart upon the reader (as I’m sure all writers do). Detail is good, of course, but my advice for de-purpling your prose is as follows:

1. Limit your lists.
Try and focus on only having X amount of descriptors in any given sentence! I usually stick with about 3-4 at max, unless I am defining something VERY important. If that doesn’t work, set a limit for whole paragraphs instead!

2. Wordage is important!
Purple prose obviously arises most often due to a need to impart imagery into a reader’s mind. This is great - but quality, not quantity, is the best way to do this. You should try and use strong, evocative language that gives powerful reactions within a reader’s mind - for example, say ebon instead of black, or Herculean instead of strong/intense. 

2.5 Power-word shortcut!
On the topic of evocative wordplay, an added bonus of this powerful word usage is that you can sort of mash a few adjectives into a single word! Silken, for example, brings to mind the soft feel of silk - but also a sort of smoothness, a shininess, and a fine quality. It makes something seem luxurious and expensive and well kept. It draws a lot of ideas to the mind in a single go, imparting what you want your reader to take away without actually using all those individual adjectives!

3. Word choice woes!
Some adjectives suck, or are extremely niche. You may often see wise, wizened, sage, venerable, or seasoned, but how often do you hear erudite? Very little, I’m sure, unless it’s used by writers who want to catch your eye OR who want to seem more well-read and sophisticated. Using words that are varied but still within a certain degree of common use will help your prose seem less purple even if it isn’t, simply because you won’t seem as highbrow to your readers while remaining readable and enjoyable. 

3.33 Alliteration shortcut!
Alliteration is most often seen in poems or limericks imo, but if you REALLY need to hammer out some adjectives, this can be a brilliant and sneaky little shortcut. If you can alliterate a few adjectives (3 is my recommendation because the human brain enjoys 3’s) your reader will seem to read them ‘faster’, softening the blow of their word count without actually slimming down the paragraph or sentence. A bit sneaky, but it does grease things up to make it flow better. Don’t use it too often though, as it’ll inevitably become extremely obvious if you do!

3.6 Word choice wonders shortcut!
An inverse to the base 3.0, sparing archaic word choice can actually be beneficial! And I mean S-P-A-R-I-N-G. Back to what I originally used, surely you’ve heard of plenty of old sages, wizened monks, and seasoned veterans - but an erudite scholar helps stand out through virtue of how comparably unique this adjective is! It sticks with a reader far longer than more common options simply due to how exotic it is to the average individual. A little sprinkle here and there is like a decadent spice for your signature dish, smothering how purple it truly is by keeping things fresh and new. However, many writers who are purple-prone don’t sprinkle this spice - they unscrew the cap and pour in the whole container, flavoring their entire work with obtuse, unreadable, overly-archaic and outright uninteresting prose. Please, apply sparingly.

These are all my tips to de-purpling! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss or have something looked over if you’d like a more personal sort of assistance!

Re: Serious Case Of Purple Prose

#10
As one of the people who reviewed it and said "purple prose," when I think back, I realize that it's not necessarily purple prose (and I'm not sure why I went with purple prose when I wrote the review). It's more of infodumping at times (which, there is a huge difference between purple prose and infodumping). There are some points where your word choice does teeter on the edge of purple prose, but it's not as prevalent as I initially thought when I said it.

In regards to the infodumping, as an example: At the beginning of Chapter 8, you have 9 paragraphs (paragraphs 3-11) that detail the world and put some of the world building in place. However, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the story at the time. I generally like world building, and the way you write feels almost like I did when I first started writing. Whether this is you or not, I don't know, but I wanted to build my story's world and give the reader as much information about it as possible, and I didn't stop to think about when or where to put that information. I just put it in as I wanted.

Something to keep in mind, like I mentioned in my review, is just to make sure every word has relevance to the plot at hand, just to make sure that you're not needlessly adding in information.

For example, instead of just telling the reader all the information, you can work it in as a way of what the characters see. Maybe some of the people stick out to the two as they walk through. Maybe they see someone who looks poor, and they think that they must be a seer or untrustworthy. Instead of telling us " nearly everyone existed on the same plane of upper-middle-class. " show us that everyone is dressed in the same fine clothes, or that the streets are clear of debris and filth. Show us the symbols of religion that hang from balconies or windows instead of telling us everyone follows the same religion. Just little details like that that can give the reader the same information, but in a way that doesn't just feel like an infodump.

(I used Chapter 8 as an example, because it's the one that was most fresh in my mind, but there were a couple other times that were similar)