Purple Prose

A common problem I see in beginning writer’s manuscripts is an overload of exposition. It’s been dubbed “exposition overload” for a reason. Don’t tell the reader about the weather, pretty scenery, or how the bakery down the streets smells in the wintertime before we get to the main character (MC). Only note these things if they matter to the story – such as if the air smelled like smoke and there shouldn’t be smoke. That’s a plot mover, whereas “the bakery smelled of cinnamon” – a bakery should smell of cinnamon. That’s not special or out of the ordinary.

A first chapter is your hook. It is how you grab a reader’s attention. “Purple prose” as it’s called, slows the pace to a snail’s crawl and unless you’re the next Wordsworth, you’ve lost the reader. Odds are you’re not Wordsworth; don’t try to me. Don’t try to be the next anything or anyone or to write the next big anything. Be you. Write your story.

2 thoughts on “Purple Prose

  1. I like reading fiction with loads of purple prose; consequently, I will not follow any of your tyrannic commandments, but continue writing purple prose shamelessly and incessantly — no matter what.


    1. And that’s perfectly fine. These “rules” are what I’ve come to accept with my writing and the books that I read. If you like purple prose, by all means, go for it. Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean the next reader will feel the same way. That’s what makes writing so fun!


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