We all have specific writing styles that we gravitate to. And it’s interesting how one style can resonate so strongly with one person and totally turn someone else off. I was reading a review of A Thousand Perfect Notes the other day and the blogger mentioned that while she didn’t dislike the book, she wasn’t a fan of the purple prose. My response: “WHAT? That’s my favorite part!”
First off, I should give a little definition of purple prose, in case you’re not familiar. Wikipedia says:
“In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors.”
Okay, well when you put it that way, it sounds pretty negative. But I guess everyone has a different threshold for when flowery language starts to draw excessive attention to itself. Typically, I’m a fan of metaphorical language. I love it when a line stands out and makes me think about its beauty. And I realized …
I love purple prose. (Or, you know, if you want to get all vernacular: I love me some purple prose.)
There, I said it. Metaphorical language pulls me deeper into a book rather than breaking the flow of the story. Unless you count the fact that I’m sometimes so blown away by a line that I need to read it out loud.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a story that’s all flowery language and no substance. I don’t want to have to puzzle through every line and figure out what the heck the author’s trying to say. But a well-placed line of gorgeous writing … sings.
So, I stand behind my love of purple prose. (You’ll even find a bit of it in my own writing.) Maybe it’s not for everyone, but that’s okay. We all have our own tastes. That’s part of what makes reading so subjective.
If you’re a fan of a bit of purple prose, like me. You might want to try reading:
“Cheerfulness is irritating, but it suits some people. Some people are born for sunlight and orange peel smiles and running on the beach and wildflowers in their hair.
Other people are born for nonexistence.”
“If he were a piano, all his strings would have snapped”
― C.G. Drews,
“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”
“As Adam stared at his lap, penitent, he mused that there was something musical about Ronan when he swore, a careful and loving precision to the way he fit the words together, a black-painted poetry. It was far less hateful sounding than when he didn’t swear.”
“Secrets are curious things. They are flimsy and easily broken. For this reason, they prefer to remain hidden.”
“Four p.m. is like a basement. Wholly innocent in theory. But if you really think about a basement, it is cement poured over restless earth. It has smelly, unfinished spaces, and wooden beams that cast too-sharp shadows. It is something that says almost, but not quite. Four p.m. feels that way, too. Almost, but not quite afternoon anymore. Almost, but not quite evening yet. And it is the way of magic and nightmares to choose those almost-but-not-quite moments and wait.”
“It’s all going to be okay. She would like to hear that now, even if it was a lie. Because some lies are beautiful. Stories do not tell you that.”
“Hazel wanted to ask him what he was thinking, what he was feeling, if he was regretting the witch or was just too tired to think, if he was embarrassed that the princess had rescued the knight or if he didn’t mind so much now that it had happened, if he remembered everything that had passed, if he was mad at himself for going with the witch, if his warm blood was winning the battle against the water in his veins; she wanted to reach out and grab the things in his mind and heart and hold them so they could examine them together, but they were not hers to take.”
― Anne Ursu,