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  • Do purple prose writers realize that having to stop reading in order to look up words in a thesaurus every few paragraphs is no fun?
    • Maybe we just assumed you'd pay attention in English class.
      • Because not knowing obscure words that you looked up in a thesaurus means that I didn't pay attention in English class, right? Maybe you should work on your faulty logic.
    • Aren't you supposed to look unfamiliar words up in a dictionary rather a thesaurus?
      • It depends on what you require when looking up words. A dictionary gives you the definition of a word, while a thesaurus offers synonyms and antonyms; different words with a similar meaning and opposite meaning, respectively.
      • To expand on that point: thesauri (yeah, I think that's really the plural) are usually employed when writing a book, not reading it--they're supposed to help you build up your vocabulary so you don't use the same words over and over. It would probably be more accurate to say that Purple Prose writers write by looking up words in a thesaurus every few paragraphs, with sometimes hilarious results (that only applies to the bad writers of Purple Prose, though; more skillful writers such as H.P. Lovecraft know the meaning of the convoluted words they use--not that that makes it much easier for the reader).
  • Why do so many tropers think Purple Prose is always bad? Sure, there are a lot of bad authors who use Purple Prose, but Tropes Are Tools. They depend on the capability of the author. And as I said in Troper Tales, many of my school essays were very purple, and they all got A's. The article on purple prose even says that many of the best authors used it in some scenes.
    • In my experience, English teachers have a lot more tolerance for purple prose(and borderline incomprehensible "creative writing") than your average reader.
      • Well, according to a particular Mary Sue Litmus Test, Purple Prose is apparently getting creative with your description: like for instance, saying a character has azure orbs would be bad. It really depends on how much you use it. A little PP here and there can actually make your writing better, as in, say, using a rather loquacious word that the reader can determine the meaning of based on how and where it's used. But when it gets to the point of needing a thesaurus every three words, you're doing it wrong.
    • Eh? To quote the trope description itself: "In moderation, this is a laudable practice, used to some degree by the greatest and most honoured followers of the craft of storytelling. When overused, however, it shall cause a piece of writing to sound foolish beyond belief."
      • This troper would say that description is incorrect. By calling a piece of prose "Purple", you are saying that it has already passed the thresh-hold into pretentiousness. Elaborate prose can work; purple prose is only good for giggling at.
      • This troper agrees with the above troper. Purple Prose is bad prose. Many of the examples on that page are incorrect because the authors mentioned are actually good writers. On this very wiki I've seen people claim Cormac McCarthy and Oscar Wilde as purple, which is simply incorrect.
      • Of course, part of the problem can be that the line between 'extravagant' and 'purple' is to a degree subjective.
    • If pulled off by someone who's able to handle it, it can work. There are lots of authors who aren't, and almost as many authors who can't but think they can.
    • Twentieth-century writers like Hemingway are responsible for instilling the notion that anything but absolute simplicity and minimalism are BADBADBADBAD. Also, television has had a big hand in shortening people's attention spans and patience for complex language or vocabulary.
      • Maybe those were the result of people getting sick of this trope on their own, much like how Punk Rock showed up in The Seventies because everybody got sick of Epic Rocking? Also, complex language and vocabulary ain't always good.
    • I believe it's part of the definition to be bad. If it's not bad, it's not purple, just elaborate. Just like how if a Mary Sue is written well, they aren't a Mary Sue anymore, just a decent character. Or if a Straw Man had many good points and was believable, he'd cease to be a Straw Man and be an opinionated ass.
    • So Purple Prose is by definition bad for it is obtrusive and featues "the sacrifice of Utility on the altar of Eloquence." That being said, I don't suppose the article's Self-demonstrating tone is purple enough. I can read it just fine at least halfway. Do I get it wrong or...?
      • I think that's at least partially because previous attempts at being self-demonstrating were so accurate they were near-incomprehensible and painful to read. Even in a Self-Demonstrating Article there needs to be a bit of clarity.
      • A Self-Demonstrating Article is an extraordinary way of enlightening us with an example as well as an explaination, however, it is compulsorily that we the reader have a reasonable understanding of exactly what idea the page is trying to convey. (Translation: Self-demonstration is cool, but we need to know what the hell the page is about).
    • I agree with the above. "Purple prose" is an insult, and thus refers writing that is bad. If your prose is elaborate or elegant, but those traits are not extended to the point where the writing ceases to be good, then it is not purple prose.
    • Look, put it this way: Purple Prose is not in itself inherently bad but is usually done badly. Usually, the 'bad' part comes from all the prose being redundant, inaccurate or just unnecessary if easier to understand words can bring the same point across. If those fancy words are best suited for the sentence, go for it.
      • As mentioned several times on here already, Purple Prose is bad, but it is not the same thing as elaborate prose. It's only "purple" if it's too elaborate.
      • Purple Prose is bad, but this page also includes examples of simply elaborate prose.
      • Not it's not, It was never bad to begin with it's just a changing public opinion made it synonymous with bad. I rather like Purple Prose and have a deep lavender hue to my own writing.
        • For the third or fourth time, yes it is. "Purple" means that it's too elaborate. You can like elaborate, wordy writing, but in doing so you are deeming it non-purple.
    • I think of Purple Prose as prose which is filled with elaborate words which (crucially) exaggerate or make no sense in context. For example, if you are writing, say, a fantasy novel, and a wizards casts magic and you use the following passage, it is perfectly okay, if elaborate:

"The miraculous orb soared, shimmering with iridescent hues, across the awed faces of those gathered around." This is not okay if you are writing about a toddler with one of those bubble-blowing rings. It sounds stupid. An example of the very extreme of Purple Prose would be something like writing a book review and saying you were overzealous to finish the book and a wave of nostalgia swept you as you closed it... we're getting into Troper Tales now, though.

  • Different people also have different tolerance levels of purple prose, probably based on levels of literacy. I'm a superfast reader who's been reading ahead of my age for years, and I can tear through Lovecraft with no problem. But readers who prefer to take it slower and/or don't understand what half the words mean are likely to get frustrated with it.
    • This troper considers himself extremely literate. However, he absolutely despises Purple Prose. There is just something about an author using (and misusing) larger words in order to sound more intelligent that rubs me the wrong way. More often than not, using smaller words is actually better than going out of your way to show off your vocabulary. Writing in purple prose is similar to painting with the most expensive brushes and paints you can find. You're showing that you have the tools to do something well, but the less expensive tools are often just as good or better.
  • What's with Purple Prose, anyway, really? I mean, flowery words that add a clearer understanding are fine, but if, say, you used egress instead of door, it doesn't add any more meaning, it just shows the reader that you know what the word egress means/you own a thesaurus.
    • You've just indirectly answered your own question; you don't need to use more obscure words in most contexts, but how else are the readers going to know how smart you are?
    • I think the word "egress" is cute and I like reading it... Personally, I think that ghettoizing thousands of nice English words just because they aren't widely known is waste of the richness of this language.
  • This.
  • This troper disagrees that it has much to do with literacy. Yes, literacy and vocabulary size are a factor, just like attention spans. But it's not just about that. Writing is meant to evoke images and do that effectively, so that the reader can imagine things on the run and remain captivated by the story. Using long words when shorter words would do wrecks your pacing and is not effective. Showing off your vocabulary instead of using more common words is not effective, either. The reason those words are common is because we need them, and that is why they themselves, as words, are invisible and unobtrusive - much like the "said" versus "stated/exclaimed/inquired" issue. Long and exotic words, on the other hand, are often unknown to the reader because their meaning is far more specific and limited than the author probably suspects (actual Purple Prose very often contains word that are blatantly falsely used). Even if it isn't, simply by bringing the word outside of its usual context you draw attention to it, make the prose obtrusive and distract from the story. Hence why "ear" is a better word for writing than "auditory organ" - the latter term has connotations that just get in the way.
  • I appreciate that (as someone stated above) people's tolerance levels vary, but it does bug me that It Was a Dark and Stormy Night is always held up as an example of purple prose. It seems to me to be a pretty good and atmospheric piece of descriptive writing -- marred only by the fact that those first seven words have become a cliché.
    • I think it's a case of being common in Purple Prose works rather than an example in itself.
  • Orbs. ORBS. If I see this word one more time, I think I might punch a baby. I remember being a thirteen-year-old Neopian, roleplaying wolves and thinking that this was the coolest word ever. But seriously, if there's a single bit of purple prose by fanfic writers and roleplayers the Internet over that makes me want to scream, it is this word. ORBS. That is all. Thank you, have a nice day.
    • My glistening blue orbs totally filmed over with a sheet of salty sorrow at this unfair comment.
    • Would you rather see 'curved spherical photon receptor cells with a dark pinpoint ringed by a coloured iris and containing a clear gelatinous substance near the nose and above the mouth' all the time?
    • What bothers me, is when a characters eyes are described as "[color] orbs". The entire eye is an orb, but the iris is a circle on front of an orb.
    • I agree with the above troper. "Blue orbs" makes me think of solid blue eyeballs.
  • Somewhat controversial trope I guess. The way I see it what is bad about this type of writing is that it usually involves essentially replacing ordinary words with words you find in the thesaurus. Florid writing is fine if the writer actually understands what they are saying and use fancy words because of their connotations, not despite of them. For example you could easily make the page quote on Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian much simpler, but you'd actually be destroying the meaning then. If Conan "walked around" instead of "treading the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet" you would lose significant information about both the Cimmerian and the world he lives in that was crammed into that paragraph. Other writers like this include Lovecraft, Tolkien, and Dickens.
    • The final problem is that any individual reader is charged with deciding where florid ends and purple begins. Robert E. Howard is a great example; some may find his work unbearably overwritten, while others would embrace its excessiveness. As in so many things, YMMV.

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