Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Purple Valentine B*llocks



It's coming to that time of year again on Friday. Valentines day, where we're supposed to love our significant other a bit more and lavish them with lots of hearts, red stuff and Hallmark sentimentality. When really if you love someone then perhaps you should show them throughout the rest of the year. Cynical, moi? I'm not one for over sentimentality for the sake of it. That's not to say I am not emotional, I just don't like buying tat and overpriced cards for a sickeningly cloying rhyme. It all seems a little impersonal. An ex of mine told me he spent ages looking through the card shops for 'the perfect verse which said how I feel.' Yes I'm an ungrateful moo but I'd much rather he'd have just written something for me himself, rhyme or not, it didn't have to be sentimental or glowing purple just personal.

Anyway, I digress as usual. Purple prose, I think I've been guilty of it before when I started writing. It's a rite of passage as a writer for some. But it helps when you can identify it. If it's detracting from the message it's almost certainly purple. If it's grandiose and full of too many cliches, it's purple. If it is full of words you frantically changed for a more complicated word, then it's irritating as hell as well as purple. Good description doesn't need complex language to create a picture for the reader, quite the opposite. That's not to say complicated words aren't useful, when it takes the place of several others or no other one will do. But don't send your reader to hunt for a dictionary every other word. It's off putting and you can easily lose the reader.

I think this competition has been mentioned on the blog before but It's worth a go just to get your writing muscles going. The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction (Bulwer Lytton) contest is a competition to challenge you to come up with the most dreadful overwritten introduction to a story. Once you can force yourself to do what you're not supposed to, it then becomes easier to identify when editing your other work. There are examples of previous winners on the site as well as the history of the contest.

But this Valentines day, purple or not, write something personal for your other half. Just go for it. It will be your words with your own feelings, not an off the shelf one size fits all rhyme. I bet it goes down better than the Hallmark verses of purple vomit.
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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more.
Great post :)
Shaun

Ashley R Lister said...

This makes perfect sense to me. I would write the verse inside valentines cards for Tracy if it weren't for the fact that my handwriting is illegible (that, and I usually draw crude genitals on the cherubs on the front of the cards).

Ash

Adele said...


I was unlucky enough to be born on St Valentine's Day. It seems fun but it brings myriad problems. This Friday I will write about it - probably in purple prose. I may even enter the competition, Thanks Lindsay,

Colin Davies said...

Hallmark's Purple Vomit, been drinking too much Vimto, like Purple Ronnie.

I agree with everything you say here. Valentines is nothing short of tax on men (or women) paying out for over priced meals, flowers and drink just to try and get their leg over (or under)some then like a bit.

Cracking Post

Steve Green said...

All true.

I, too, was born on Valentine's Day. I don't have problems with that as such, though booking a birthday meal in a restaurant is slightly more difficult. The increased cost of the relevant consumables and thesauridiculous cards is over the top, but it's just another sign of the times: making money out of people. Just look at Halloween costumes & treats, fireworks on nights other than Nov 5 and Christmas "fortnight". Before long they'll be making money by having souvenirs marking the anniversary of national disasters!

Not that I'm cynical...