Because the (off) topic has come up in various other threads lately, I thought that perhaps it deserved a thread of its own. Cogito has stated that purple prose is, by definition, undesirable. I don't think that's quite accurate. Sorry, Cog! I rarely disagree with you, so I looked it up to make sure. My understanding is that it is, by definition, excessive. That need not be derogatory; there is such a thing as desirable excess. I think most people will agree that Nabokov's Lolita was profoundly excessive, but delightfully so. Others simply hate it. My consumption of good purple prose is like gorging myself on fine chocolate; it can be sickening, but oh, so good, I just can't stop! There is probably a better term for the sweet excess of Nabokov's work, but if so, I don't know it. What is the word for “sickeningly sweet in a good way”? From dictionary.com: I should say that I have found published authors who take Cogito's view of purple prose (actually, many do), but there's no absolute, authoritative definition to say that it's bad. At least, I haven't found one. The term seems to be rather obscure and subject to opinion – a recipe for debate, if ever I've seen one. Here's a commonly cited purple prose line from Edward Bulwer-Lytton's “Paul Clifford”: I think most people on this forum (myself included) would recommend shortening it. This is very sound advice for beginners. It's extremely unlikely that any unknown writer would ever manage to publish a book in today's market with an opening line like that! He could have just written, “It was a dark and stormy night” and it would have worked just as well. However. . . I rather like the line as it is!! I actually think that shortening the line only cheats the reader of this author's vivid imagination. The ultimate point is that there's a time and a place for purple, and there is, undeniably, a certain skill in wielding such unwieldy wonders. It is also highly subjective as to whether or not it's actually good, even when skillfully executed. The problem with beginners who write this way is that their phrasing is almost never skillful. In fact, it's always downright dreadful. I've never seen any successful attempt, and I've read a lot of this stuff on many writing sites. With that in mind, I think it's a better game plan to start at square one; work on developing a more concise, publishable style, get your name out there, and work your way up to that purple hue you love so much. But, I digress (in the spirit of my thread). Questions: Do you think a beginner can actually make a name for himself by going purple? Bear in mind that most publishers won't look past the first line. Who publishes this stuff? Are there any good publishers that an unknown might actually have a shot with? (yes, I realise this one belongs in the publishers forum, but is it really worth making two threads? Forum mods decide.) What are your general views on purple prose? Is there such a thing as 'good' purple? If so, what defines it? I have noticed that most styles are very distinct, and it can be hard to pin down exactly what makes it good. And most importantly. . . What are your favorite purple prose (or 'delightfully excessive') books/authors? Feel free to comment however you like. The only question that matters is the last one, cause I'm jonesin for a fix.