Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
Friday, March 25, 2011
Avoid Purple Prose
My Dear Writers, I was appalled when I read this week that we should not use Purple Prose in our writing. Purple happens to be my favorite color. Whoever named this form of writing should have named it Orange Prose, or Black Prose. Anything but Purple Prose! If you don’t know what Purple Prose is, I am glad I can enlighten you.
In her book Crafting Stories for Children, Nancy Lamb refers to using adjectives and adverbs as Purple Prose. You know the LY and ING words? She says adjectives interfere with prose more often than they improve it and adverbs kill a sentence more often than they enliven it. But I thought our writing should be wonderfully descriptive so we could put our readers in captivating settings. Nancy gives these examples:
Don’t write this way: Tiffany smiled prettily, her beautiful, enticing, cat-green eyes dancing seductively with alluring and predatory fires.
Write this way: When Tiffany smiled, her eyes danced with predatory fires.
So my friends, bury those weak words and craft strong descriptive sentences without them. Okay, okay, you don’t have to bury all of them. You can use your favorites, but sparingly. Happy writing.