Book Blogger Confessions (13)


I can’t really tell the difference between purple prose and actually beautiful writing sometimes.

If you don’t know what purple prose is, it’s writing that’s overly ornate to the point that it’s all flowery language and almost no substance. You know the type – it takes two or three pages to describe a person, an action scene screeches to a halt to describe some small details, and we know more about the room characters are in instead of what the characters are actually doing in the room. Some books like Twilight are commonly called out for their prose that’s apparently dripping in purple dye. So, I obviously understand what purple, overly flowery prose is and can roll my eyes and laugh at it just as much as the next person – but, sometimes when I see people praise beautiful writing in a book, it doesn’t look that different to me.

I’m not saying that I can’t appreciate beautiful writing! I love writing, I am a writer, and I love making my stories sound more whimsical and flowery in order to set the mood. Does this mean that I automatically like flowery language, whether it’s universally loved or not? I don’t think that’s the case, but I honestly don’t know what is!

For example, I loved the writing in the Shatter Me trilogy. I loved how it reflected Juliette’s personality and state of mind and made the story unique, different from most books and their writing. Some people complained how the story was dripping in metaphors and similes, figurative language that tried too hard to be different, but I loved it all, and Shatter Me certainly isn’t the only book that does that for me.

I love reading quotes, especially inspiring ones from books I love, but sometimes people gush about beautiful metaphors and images created by these quotes that don’t seem that different from the bad kind of flowery language. Does anyone else ever feel this way, or am I simply missing out on some crucial difference? Is flowery language automatically good if the story is good and interesting and bad if the story isn’t equally over-the-top and too angsty? Is it bad when the flowery language is overused to describe physical things, like someone’s appearance, as opposed to emotions and less tangible things?

Or am I simply overthinking this? Because that can certainly be a problem for me! And if you’re bored, feel free to let me know what you think in your most flowery language, although if I’m being honest, I might need a translation…


7 thoughts on “Book Blogger Confessions (13)

  1. I think that flowery language is different for everyone. For example, I did not like the writing style of Shatter Me. I thought that a lot of the metaphors and similes were repetitive and cliche. But, you really liked it, which I respect too. Some people really love particular books, while other people hate them. Writing is just a subjective thing that everyone has their own opinions on. There is not a right or wrong way to describe a character, set the plot, or paint a setting.
    Great discussion!

  2. Purple prose is a subjective phenomenon. One person’s purple prose is another’s beautiful writing! So don’t worry if you can’t tell the difference, because it doesn’t matter!

    1. I definitely need to remember that – it’s just so difficult, though, when some people are gushing about certain writing that doesn’t sound that different from things that they dismissed as purple prose – I need less subjectivity in this area!

  3. Personally, I think the difference between purple prose and beautiful language has a lot more to do with the reader than the author. Because I’ve also thought before, I don’t know if I’d recognize the difference.

    To me, purple prose is when the author is trying too hard – using extravagant language when it’s unnecessary or trying to pull you into a scene with a beautiful metaphor but it just doesn’t work. It actually takes me out of the book because the ornate language jolts me rather than wrapping me up in the story.

    Beautiful writing may be a lot of the same words used, but it actually works. It fits in the story and creates a better picture. Shatter Me is a great example because there is a lot of opinions about it and people seem to either love or hate how it’s written. I LOVED it! Loved the metaphors – loved the unconventional writing style – loved that it’s incredibly stylistic and the more sane Juliette becomes, the less of it there is. I have woken up feeling like a creaky staircase 🙂

    So, personally, I’ve decided the line between great writing and purple prose is wherever I decide to draw it 🙂

    1. That’s a great line to draw! I think that is a great difference – sometimes I’ll read a flowery line in a book and totally love it for the way it plays with words and emotions and such, and sometimes it seems like the author is trying too hard. It doesn’t feel genuine and organic. The overly flowery language in Shatter Me felt organic because it felt true to Juliette’s state of mind, especially at the beginning, and it evolved along with her character, which I loved!

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