Appearance & Health: Make them actually look their age. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a book where someone’s middle aged parents look like they are in their early 30’s and who have the health of someone in their mid 20’s. If your character is middle aged or older, try to give them accurate appearances and health (though that can vary widely).
Priorities: Depending on the time period and setting, most older people are settled. They may not worry about renovating parts of their house or saving up to buy something nice. They could be nearing the end of paying off their house or they might be looking into retirement communities (they are different from nursing homes, which seems to be a common misconception). Instead of worrying about work or promotions, they might worry about family members who are much older and who need constant care.
Knowledge: Again, this depends on time period and setting. What we know about the world, especially in terms of science, medicine, and technology, is changing and advancing daily. Most older people, if they are not involved in these fields, cannot keep up or do not care to keep up. What an older character knows about a particular subject (any subject, with the exception of historical events they lived through) might be outdated. Therefore, older characters are not always the most knowledgeable in a story. However, older people tend to have more knowledge of life experience.
Morals & Values: The morals and values of people change with each generation. Older characters might not have the same morals and values as younger characters.
Diversity: Older characters are just as diverse as young characters. There is no set way to write them. Some older people act a lot younger than they actually are and others do not.
Change: Older characters should still be dynamic in a story. People don’t stop changing. We are constantly learning and evolving.
Read: Read some memoirs about being middle aged or older, where your character is. Get some insight.
For back story, there’s a tag on the tags page for how to reveal that and how to write it.
Translate as many as you need, but I can give you some tips that can help you a lot when writing sentences and phrases.
Here is what you should definitely translate to have on hand:
- Verb endings
- Common words
One thing you should do is create pronouns and how they work with verb conjugations. Let’s say that mwi is the pronoun she. The verb tinolit means to run. Now let’s say we want to write “she runs”. You can do a lot with this depending on your language:
You can write a literal translation without conjugating the verb:
- Mwi tinolit
You can conjugate the verb and get rid of the pronoun due to the verb already implying the pronoun:
You can add something to the verb without conjugating it to show the pronoun:
Of course with different tenses, you might have to further conjugate the verb depending on the culture’s perception of time. If we wanted to say “she ran”, it could be:
- Mi’tinoliten or (looking at example 2)
- En’tinolam or (looking at example 1)
- Mwi tinoliten
You should also make a list of verb endings. In our word tinolit, the -lit is the ending and this is what we modify when conjugating the verb. We can make -lit a regular verb ending, along with a few other endings. Let’s choose three common verb endings: -lit, -let, -lot. We can also introduce irregular verb endings, but you don’t have to do that.
Once you’ve got your basic verb endings, you should come up with verb endings for certain tenses. Make a list of all of these. When it comes time to create a sentence with a verb you don’t have, all you need to do is pick a verb ending, make up a prefix, and, if needed, attach your pronoun.
Common words would include articles, prepositions, interjections, determiners, and conjunctions. Coming up with words for these beforehand can cut down a lot of time on making up full sentences in another language.
The syntax (word order) is something that you should determine right away. Here is an example of how to keep track of it:
- Fictional Language: [insert a fictional language with Yoda’s syntax]
- Literal Translation: Luke, when gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be.
- Modified Translation: Luke, when I am gone, you will be the last of the Jedi.
Keeping tack of literal translations can help you practice with the same syntax and you can refer to other sentences you have created to keep consistency. Look at the syntax of various languages to get some ideas. They don’t always have to follow the syntax of the language you write in.
Bonus: Untranslatable words can be a fun little addition to your world and can add to realism. A lot of people use words from other languages in their everyday speech to convey feelings succinctly. They can be used as interjections too. If you use untranslatable words, just one (or two or three) will do. Creating too many will confuse readers or reduce their effect. You need to explain what these words mean at one point in your story so that readers are aware of what they mean.
Above all, translate all words and sentences that you use in your story.
When it comes to translating fictional languages to the reader, there are a few things you can do.
- Greetings: You don’t always need to translate greetings or farewells. If two characters meet, bow, and say “Lito” to each other, the reader will assume it is a greeting based on context. They don’t need the literal translation.
- Full sentences: If you use full sentences in another languages, you don’t have to translate them if the reader isn’t meant to know what it says. If you want to translate them to the reader, you can use a character as a translator or you can write the translation in dialogue (usually in italics) if the POV character understands the language.
- Glossary: Some writers include a glossary of their language at the end of the story. This works best when you only use a few words and phrases of your made up language. A glossary isn’t going to allow an accurate translation of full sentences if you use them because the reader doesn’t know conjugations and syntax.
- Common Phrases: You can find lots of ways to translate simple phrases to the reader. You only need to do it once. After that, you can use this common phrase and variations of it without needing to translate it.
- Mention in Narration: You don’t have to write out the language all the time. If the POV character can understand the language, mention within narration that they are speaking a different language and write the dialogue in whatever language you write in.
Abdominal Pain Grid
TRIGGER WARNING: Violence, psychological distress, rape
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep… That have taken hold.”
Here are some abandoned, eerie places!
I always enjoy abandoned places. Its so peaceful to see how nature slowly reclaims what mankind has left behind.
Okay. So, I don’t specifically live in Paris, I’ve got family here though. I can give you a few quick tips. I also know of one guide I’ve seen around, but I will not link you to it as it’s actually really damn bad from my point of view.
- Paris is the most expensive city to live in in France, and probably one of the most expensive city to live in in the world. Unless they go to a prestigious college and got some kind of help to pay for a shitty studio, young adults probably wouldn’t afford to live in Paris itself, except if their parents are rich as fuck. Don’t you dare go and say they live near the Eiffel Tower. Hell. Unless you’re actually really rich and have a family appartment there you probably won’t afford to pay the billions needed for an appartment in the historical center of Paris. There’s some less expensive stuff in other neighbourhoods, but even these are still quite expensive and would be too expensive for most young adults.
- Your character is most likely to live in the suburbs (from Nanterre to Créteil) - and have to take the RER (train. Shitty ass trains with too many people in it about always) for a bit to reach the city itself. It’s that or taking the car, and A) A lot of young adults don’t have their driver’s license before they reach 20-25 because, once again, expensive as fuck. And you don’t need it in Paris, not really. B) No one actually WANTS to drive in that place. No one. It’s the worst. There’s just too many people and no one cares about respecting other drivers AND MAN THE GODDAMN BICYCLES.
- If your character is a young adult, they probably rent a Velib from time to time - which are these goddamn bicycle you can rent in the city. They are heavy as fuck. A lot of people drive with their earphones on. No one tells them anything because the bicycles and people walking never do no wrong, it’s always the cars who are considered responsible when there’s an accident. They are everywhere and make everything even more of a danger than it already was before them.
- Most of the time, if they go to college, it doesn’t have to be in Paris itself. A lot of colleges are in the suburbs, a lot of private schools are in Paris itself and while, yes, there are some colleges in Paris, these are usually really damn hard to get in.
- No you can not see the Eiffel Tower from everywhere in Paris for God’s sake. It’s not THAT big.
- Most of the people who live in Paris don’t give two craps about museums, culture and the like. It’s just their city - they live here, and they don’t have the time for that.
- Adult hipsters are called ‘bobos’. They like bicycles and organic food. You’ll find a lot of them in Paris.
- The nightlife is great. Nightlife is amazing. That’s pretty much all young adults parisians care about.
- No one wears bérets.
- Baguettes come in bags because people rarely only buy one to walk around with it under their arm.
- Our fashion sucks. It’s really bland most of the time.
In short, Paris is great if you’re a tourist.
You probably don’t want to actually live here. Or if you do want to live here because you’d care about the culture, well, you can’t. Because it’s too expensive.
I litterally don’t get how people can romanticize it.
The beginning of your novel is super important and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Planning out the first few chapters of your novel can be difficult, so I’ve come up with a list of things you should try to avoid. For the most part, pulling from this list will weaken your story. I know there are always exceptions, but I can almost guarantee you many publishers and agents are tired of seeing the same plot devices used over and over again.
So, here are a few ways to automatically weaken your story from the first few sentences:
Start with a long description of your character.
Sure, it helps your readers to have an image of your main character in their minds, BUT you don’t need to put the full description in the first paragraph. There might be a few things you want to mention, but try not to go beyond that until the opportunity presents itself. A full report is not necessary and it will drag your writing down from the beginning. Get creative with how you introduce your character and their appearance. What’s important? What do your readers absolutely need to know? Go with that.
Start with a dream.
I know this does work occasionally, but it happens so often I’m sure most people are sick of it. Starting your novel with a dream is no longer very creative and your readers will just want you to get to the point. However, if you do start with a dream make sure it ties the story together in some way and it’s not just boring story filler.
Start with your character waking up.
This happens so often it’s crazy. It’s alright to begin your novel with something other than your character starting their day. In fact, it’s more exciting when it does. We don’t need to see what they do in the morning or read about them staring at their reflection in the mirror as they get ready for the day. You can start your novel where you want, so do something interesting.
Start with the weather.
Unless your story directly relates to the weather, please try to open your novel with something else. No one really cares about the weather that much, unless it’s some sort of apocalyptic awesome weather, so avoid it where you can.
Start with character emotions/thoughts.
“Where am I?” Amy thought. This is pretty boring. So is, “Amy was sad.” You’re already starting off your novel by telling your readers what your main character is thinking. We want to see it and experience it ourselves. You want to give your readers something to picture. The first sentence of your novel should be exciting and draw your readers in.
I never thought I’d say this, but I think I want to get hit by lightning.
Plot holes occur when
Now that you know what you’re looking for, the fixes should be simple enough:
Some of the fixes will be simple enough, such as switching references to “shooting” and “blasting” zombies to “stabbing” and “beheading” zombies. Some of them will be harder, like when you’ve written a climax in which a normally calm character goes insane and tries to kill the protagonist for no reason whatsoever. An entire climax or arc hinging on a plot hole can’t be easily fixed and I recommend looking in the plot and planning tags for basically starting from scratch.
mes back to life because of how the afterlife works. Fiore: An elf who is meant to be a healer but he really hates being a healer so he runs off and becomes a really good swordsman. Jare: A selfless person who is killed defending his best buddy Fiore. Please tell me what you think about all these brief descriptions of their primary traits and what you think of their brutal methods of death!
I don’t know what you want me to say … It sounds like a good starting point, but your characters need to be more than who they like, a character trait, and what they do.
Well, British accents don’t exist first of all, so that’s my first piece of advice to you.
Other than that, I would highly recommend looking at accent challenges on YouTube to hear a variety of English and Welsh accents. I Google searched ‘tumblr accent challenge welsh’ and a whole bunch of videos popped up. You could do the same for the English part. Hearing them for yourself is the best course of action to take, imo.
Otherwise, links because there is already a lot out there on accents and I don’t think I could make any useful contribution to it all.
- How to Write a Southerner/Slang and Accents
- Irish/Scottish Characters
- English Slang - Regions/Countries
- Butchering Accents
- Writing Dialogue in Accents and Dialect
- FYCD: English Accents
- TWH: Writing a Spanish Accent
- KSW: On Writing Accents
- Writing Helpers: How do you describe accents?
- Little Elle: On Writing Accents
- The Accent Post
- On Writing Accents and Dialects
- On Writing Accents
- Broad Tips on Accent Writing
- Accents in Fantasy Settings
- 10 Tips on Writing Characters with Accents
- Advice: Writing Accents
- Advice: Don’t Write Out Accents
I hope some of this helps…! Best of luck.
Not only can a romance liven up your characters, but they add realistic drama and emotion to your novel. If done correctly, they contribute real depth on a level of human need for acceptance, affection, and ultimate happiness. It’s the idea that when two people meet, they change each other. For better? For worse? Either one can be great to your characterization.
Except a badly built relationship can damage your story! Poor romantic choices on a writing level can damage your character’s realistic and relatable qualities and make your writing cheesy or fake. You want a romance that could be real—one where you can feel the relationship changing and growing like a living thing. A great story is about the people, not the just the plot. And you want your people to struggle and fail and ultimately succeed just as much as real people do—even in their love lives.
Here’s a list I put together, based on what I’ve seen and done:
Plummeting Love: Fictional relationships involving so-called “star-crossed love” I refer to as a Plummeting Love. Because they don’t just fall in love, they plummet. It’s fast and unstoppable with a nasty ending. Except they save the nasty ending until after the book is over so you never read about it. I don’t really like this kinda relationship, but if you can make it work you’re more than welcome to, I suppose. But in my opinion, you should never go with the “love at first sight” thing unless you can follow up with something really good. A great love story isn’t about bam, love! It should be about the growing relationship between two individuals. Besides, loving someone is about loving their personality, not just their looks. So how could you possibly fall in love with someone just by seeing them? That’s infatuation. Of course there’s a chance you might be interested enough in their appearance that you go up and talk to them. Maybe love blooms from there, but that kinda thing takes more than just a few minutes. Think of it this way: in reality, you’re hardly going to walk up to a stranger and just make out with them right there, no matter how beautiful you find them. Unless, of course, you were doing it as a dare or you lost a bet.
Unfortunately though, this kinda romance sells. Because it’s hot and sexy and scandalous, and they don’t fluff over romance before jumping into the sex scene. Plummeting love sells because sex sells. I don’t approve of it because I believe in relationships of love, not lust. But if you’re looking to write a steamy “romance” novel, this is the type for you.
Example: Bella/Edward in Twilight; Romeo/Juliet
More than Friends: Pretty self-explanatory. Two people who start out as either friends or best friends and then slowly fall in love. I completely approve of this type of romance because it’s possible while still maintaining that fictional flare. It happens in real life often enough, I’m sure, although I don’t think it’d always work. Sometimes, maybe, but I feel like you ask for more in a romantic relationship than in a friendship. There’s more selfishness involved in a romantic relationship. If one person in the relationship starts asking for more like in a romantic relationship, and the other person sticks with the selfless love of a friendship, that could cause problems. I think it can get pretty complicated, but it could work out if both people in the relationship stick with the same type of relationship, whether it’s the relationship of friends or the relationship of lovers.
Example: Drizzt/Catti-Brie in Legend of Drizzt; Will/Alyss in Ranger’s Apprentice
Typical Romance: Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. They’re friends first, but skip the “best friends” stage and jump into a romantic relationship that both sides are happy with. Most fictional stories will have this kind of romance because it doesn’t take a lot of effort, since both sides of the relationship want it anyways. I’d guess that most of the time, both people in the relationship are fairly similar and get along well, but like I said its generally for stories that want a romance but don’t want the tale to be about a romance. So most likely they’ll hardly fight and their relationship details will be kept to a minimum.
Example: Wulfgar/Cattie-Brie in Legend of Drizzt
One-sided Love: Also known as Unrequited Love. Basically it’s a relationship where one side chases the other side. Just to keep things from getting confusing, let’s just say a guy likes a girl, but the feelings aren’t mutual. (It’s not always the guy who’s chasing the girl, but it usually is, for whatever reason. Probably because girls like to be chased because it makes them feel special or desirable, and girls would generally be the ones reading a story about romance anyways so the author is writing straight to his audience) Maybe the girl doesn’t care much for the other; maybe she hates him, maybe she doesn’t know him, maybe she’s indifferent, maybe they’re just friends and she wants to keep it that way. Or maybe she likes a different boy. It’s easy to get some real good love triangles in a relationship like this one! So the boy might try to win over the girl however possible. He might simply give her gifts or do romantic things for her, maybe rescue her from danger, or maybe just stay her closest friend because he knows that’s what she wants from him. Or maybe the boy we’re talking about is your bad guy, and he’s one of those mentally unstable people who think that being evil is the way to win a girl’s heart. There’s a lot of variety in this kinda relationship, which is awesome. I think it’s one of my favorites!
Examples: Aragorn/Eowyn in Lord of the Rings; Eragon/Arya in Eragon
Fire and Fire: This is my favorite romance type by far. The simple idea behind it is that opposites attract. More or less. I’ll explain that further in a bit(*). Anyways, this romance involves two disagreeing, opposite kinds of people coming together. For some reason, both sides will be forced together for a set period of time. There’s a lot of possibilities for that. Maybe they have a common goal and decide to team up, maybe a higher power (maybe a king or other ruler) forced them on a common quest. Sometimes the two will already know each other and already hate or dislike the other, or sometimes they’ll be complete strangers, but their conflicting personalities will quickly lead to some conflicts. It might seem like two people who fight all the time could never end up falling in love, but I don’t know.
In one book I read, the girl wanted a dream house built, and the guy was the main architect and construction leader person. She had to work closely with him until the house was finished to make sure everything was being built like she wanted it while still following the rules of construction and whatnot. But anyway, after they’re forced together, that’s when the fun starts. Maybe it’s just the fact that it seems so strange and unlikely that makes me enjoy this time the most. I think the technical reason that it works so well is because it highlights their individual personality traits so well. The fact that they’re so different makes their conflicting traits stand out. Antithesis, its known as. Also, they’re bound to share at least some traits, and since there’s not very many of these they’ll stand out too. Emphasis through isolation. Maybe both of them are really stubborn, and that’s why they fight so much. Maybe one is more selfless and argues with the other to do what is right, but the other is more selfish and argues to do what is in their own best interests. A single fight between the two not only highlights their shared trait, their stubbornness, but it also highlights their conflicting traits, selfishness and selflessness. It’s great for fleshing out your characters and filling them with life. There’s no better way to reveal someone’s passions than in a well-worded argument, I think.
It’s freeing, in a way, to not worry what someone else thinks of you. Both sides will be themselves and act as they always do because they’re not trying to impress the other person. Two friends might lie about their true feelings on an issue because they don’t want to hurt the other’s feelings, but that’s not a problem in this kinda relationship. They’ll be straightforward and honest about their position on an issue because they don’t really care if their viewpoints conflict (since they know they’ll conflict, anyways), and if they feel strong enough about it they’ll fight to uphold their beliefs. At the same time, since they have a common goal, they won’t let their dislike for the other get in the way of their mission. They won’t lie to the other or trick them because that might endanger their chances at success. They might argue over how to get something done, but in the end they want the same thing, so they’ll eventually learn how to work together.
I think it’s really good to start a relationship off like this. You might not be completely trusting at the start (which is good, because you should be careful with who you give your heart to) but you’ll start off the relationship with honesty and a need to work together. Even though they disagree, they’ll have to learn to at least listen to the other’s point of view and rely on each other’s previous experience for the point of the mission, which will eventually lead to acceptance and trust. Plus, of course, you’ll already know what it’s like to get in an argument and you’ll already know what the other person is like when they’re angry, so future fights won’t crush your budding relationship. I hear a lot of couples say that they’re so in love and they’ve never ever fought and all that, but every real relationship has its disagreements. Some are bigger than others, and the big ones sometimes end a relationship because the couple tried to avoid arguments and so they don’t know how to get past those fights and move on in a relationship. I think fighting in a relationship is good because it lets off pent up steam and lets the other person know how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. A couple that starting off fighting more often than having a friendly conversation will be more than familiar with how to get over a fight and move on.
Examples: Beatrice/Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing
Abusive Relationship: One person in the relationship is abusive towards the other, either verbally or physically. It’s not healthy and it’s not happy. Sometimes the abused wants out, but stays for a variety of reasons: obligations, finances, delusion, fear, etc. Sometimes the abused doesn’t want out because they don’t realize getting out is an option—which can be fun to play with, especially when a more worthy lover opens their eyes to the happiness they could have. I’m sure it’s also possible that both parties are abusive, and it’s just one angry household of fighting. Was the relationship abusive from the start? Or did it begin as a typical romance—they started off dating, and at some point someone got abusive (**). This is also good for exploring the characters’ relationships outside their romance: what do their friends say about it? Their parents/siblings?
(*) Okay, about opposites attracting. And this doesn’t just apply to the Fire and Fire relationship—it can go for any opposites between your characters. In general my belief is that opposite personalities attract, while similar values attract. A disagreement over what’s right and what’s wrong can cause some serious moral arguments—not the kind a couple should have to fight over. They should in general agree that killing or raping someone is bad, for example.
(**) This is a good point to keep in mind—a relationship doesn’t have to fit one of these types to a T, nor does it have to fit just one. It’s very possible to jump between types, as long as it makes sense of course. It might be hard to provide a solid transition, but it can add drama and tension. The jump from any relationship to an abusive one is easier to imagine, but think of other possibilities. Maybe it starts off as a superficial Plummeting love, and a couple weeks down the road they realize they don’t get along all that well. They fight, they argue, and they’re not as “star-crossed” as they think. They are now a Fire and Fire type. The passing of time might change a relationship, too. Maybe in their youth, a couple fit the More than Friends type, but years later one’s feelings have drifted away while the other now suffers from Unrequited Love. It can be a mix and match as long as the jump makes sense!
Types of Love (not necessarily romantic)
nothing-can-be-gained asked: Where does the line between purple prose and vivid description lie? How can I tell if something I’ve written is purple prose-like?
You know when you read a book a get to a passage or a line and say, “Great Scott, the things I would do to be able to write sentences like that.” Often, in trying to write a sentence like that, you end up with a writer’s disease called purple prose.
Purple Prose: Writing so extravagant or orate that it breaks the flow of the narrative and draws attention to itself.
The Elements of Style calls this writing that is “hard to digest, generally unwholesome, and sometimes nauseating.” There’s no solid example of purple prose since the definition is subjective, but it is something you definitely don’t want. Below is one example of the evolution from concise language to purple prose:
- Plain: He set the cup down.
- Middle Ground: He eased the Big Gulp onto the table.
- ACK: Without haste, the tall, blond man lowered the huge, plastic, gas station cup with a bright red straw onto the slick surface of the coffee table.
Hopefully no one is shooting for the last example. The problem, of course, is differentiating between that writing which invites disgust and vivid, beautiful writing. There is nothing wrong with description; however, learning what needs to be described and when to describe it is vital, and that kind of experience takes time hone.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while working out the distinction between purple prose and good description:
- The author does not exist. Ideally, a reader should be sitting there completely unaware that someone designed all of this. Once the author pokes his head through the cracks of the story, part of that reading experience is interrupted. Another way of looking at this is in terms of John Gardner’s “vivid and continuous dream”.The story is not about you (unless it’s an autobiography/memoir). The story is about the story. Your merits as a writer will come forward in a faithful telling of it, with language that will vividly depict it, not language that is trying to show off your skill. The real skill in this department is not in flowery language, but in precision of language, which we’ll see below.In bad or unsatisfying fiction, [the] fictional dream is interrupted from time to time by some mistake or conscious ploy on the part of the artist… It is as if a playwright were to run out on stage, interrupting his characters, to remind us that he has written all this. (x)
- Be concise. One of the main complaints about purple prose is that it is unnecessarily flowery and takes forever to read. There’s a story in there somewhere, and your reader should not have to machete their way through your description to get there. There is description that is necessary and helpful in building the experience that the reader should experience, but in can be easy to fall into the trap of pontificating. This is where use of concrete detail matters the most. To learn more about that, check out this post.
- Keep control of your adverbs. There’s this whole hulabaloo over adverbs nowadays. Should you use them? Should you not? (There’s a bit about that here.) Adverbs exist, and therefore can and should be used. Using an adverb, however, sometimes indicates the presence of a weak verb. For example, if you say that a character “searched unsystematically,” you’d probably be better off saying that she “rummaged”. We have lots of words in English, many of which have beautifully concise definitions. Use those.
- Omit needless words. Using unnecessary words simply bogs down your writing. It doesn’t make your passage richer, it just gets in the way of things that matter. In the words of George Carlin:Using your words effectively will be enough to make your point. Check out this selection from Oliver Twist, in which the narrator tries to tell us that Oliver had a breathing problem.People add extra words when they want things to sound more important than they really are. ‘Boarding process’ sounds important. It isn’t. It’s just a bunch of people getting on an airplane. (x)The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration, - a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence.
Charlie (can I call you “Charlie”?), we know that breathing is necessary for existence. Just tell us that Ollie had a hard time with it. That’s all we need.
Omitting needless words does not mean cutting out all of your description or only using simple words and single-clause sentences, it only means that every word must serve a specific purpose.
- Get rid of zombie nouns. Along with omitting needless words and using concise language, a great way to combat purple prose is to purge your work of as many nominalizations (deemed zombie nounsby Helen Sword) as you can.These words, though often thought to be impressive, can actually blur the intent of your writing and make you seem pretentious. For more on nominalizations, check out Beware of nominalizations (AKA zombie nouns).Nominalization (n): A type of word formation in which a verb or an adjective (or other part of speech) is used as (or transformed into) a noun. (x)
- Use your ear. Trust yourself. If you read something and say, “Hmm, this might be a little purple,” chances are that it is. When you look at a passage and say that a bunch of lines could be condensed into one, or a clause could be substituted for a single, stronger word, do it. Try not to use something outlandish without a good reason. Try literally reading aloud to help you hear the cadence and tone of your writing, as well as listen to how long you dwell on descriptions of a particular subject. However, when reading out loud, be sure not to lend your work a favorable rhythm that is not really there.
- Purple prose is not impressive. The language that blows us away is not the language that is excessively ornate, it’s the language that is precise. Don’t feel a need to impress your reader with your writing abilities. If you get around that pretension and focus instead on focusing the intent of your words, your readers will end up impressed.
- Murder your darlings. This advice (actually first given by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, not Faulkner) is another barometer to use in terms of purple prose. Being impressed with a lovely turn of phrase isn’t always a bad sign, but it could be. If a passage that you wrote amazes you, take a good hard look at it. It might have to go.
- You still have the right to write. Cutting out purple prose is not cutting out talent. Cutting out purple prose is cutting out language that looks more like a vocabulary exercise than a story. Use all of the vivid description you want, but be sure to pay close attention to the purpose of your words. Keep the above advice in mind, but know that if you have a lot of description and it’s all worthwhile, keep it.
Clearing out purple prose is a service to your story. It gets the reader more involved in its reading in the sense that it becomes a more intimate experience, as the story is being told without interrupting the vivid and continuous dream. It also can help tell your story more effectively if you cut down and use language that is more focused.
There is no straight answer to this question. Because each writer’s style is different, the line for purple prose may change from person to person, and what pleases you will not please everyone. There are things to keep in mind in terms of keeping your diction focused, but your style is your style.
- The Elements of Style
- Purple Prose
- Avoiding Purple Prose
- Purple Prose Parody Contest (some really fun reads in here)
- How to Avoid Purple Prose
Thank you for your question! If you have any comments or questions about this article or writing in general, use our ask box!
i will always marvel at humankind’s ingenuity. the fact that these beautiful pieces of art were made, oh god i’m getting emotional