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…