1. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Purple Prose VS prose poetry

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jonathan hernandez13, Jun 1, 2009.

    Well, as far back as I can recall I have a certain tendency in my writing. It involves the use of commas and a string of words in a sentence, several nouns used for metaphoric comparison (usually three, I have an obsessive compulsive thing about prime numbers). Sometimes the nouns will rhyme or at least look or sound similar enough to be strung together. An example.

    ---"they will die out, the same as the Dacians, Thracians, and Galatians before them, boy"---

    When I was in college I had a writing teacher who pointed it out to me (I was less conscious of it then), and commended me on it because he said it gave the sentence a poetic flow. Well, wasnt I impressed with myself.

    Trouble is, I get carried away these days, and my writing is plagued with commas, run-on sentences, and writing that has been described as 'purple prose':confused:

    Here is an example of something that may sound very purple prosey from a story of mine---

    ---Once, before the great citadels of his seafaring people had been swept away by the molten earth of their murdering volcano, he would sail out from their sparkling cities to trade with the odd natives of other lands. They would travel to barbarian lands, unheard of by Shardana mapmakers and storytellers; sometimes to explore or to trade but sometimes just for the sheer ecstasy of discovering the unknown---

    Purple prose is considerd negative, difficult to read, and overly ornate to the point that it detracts from itself. Even successful writers like the Twilight creator Stephenie Meyer are called purple prose writers. How bad is it? Would people call Conan creator Robert E Howard a purple prose writer? (check out my quote below for an example of his writing). If so, that explains a lot, his writing influenced me a great deal, and since he was a pulp fiction writer, was encouraged to write that way by the editiors of the time. Hell, Howard was an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, and god knows he can be purple prosey.

    I heard about this thing called poetic prose and fell in love with it. Its poetic but prose at the same time. Are there any correlations between the two? Is poetic prose even considerd a legitimate art form? Example---



    "Blood Oranges and Purple Beets"

    Wired-out green trees speaking and whispering to me
    about a vision of life in the tropics.
    Neon lights on the cobblestone streets
    high-lighting the iron black lace
    on her spiked leather thigh-high boots.
    Slowly I scan the area with dark mirrored glasses,
    while sipping my blood orange juice,
    with cocktail umbrella crushed under heel,
    loud pictures on exhibition behind pale glass.
    Ambrosia(sniff/sniff) meets my nostrils,
    the scent of life crosses the stoned street,
    I follow...

    - Ogden McGahan

    versus a purple prose example

    "But the Quincunx of Heaven runs low, and 'tis time to close the five ports of knowledge. We are unwilling to spin out our awaking thoughts into the phantasms of sleep, which often continueth precogitations; making Cables of Cobwebs and Wildernesses of handsome Groves. Besides Hippocrates hath spoke so little and the Oneirocriticall Masters, have left such frigid Interpretations from plants that there is little encouragement to dream of Paradise it self. Nor will the sweetest delight of Gardens afford much comfort in sleep; wherein the dullness of that sense shakes hands with delectable odours; and though in the Bed of Cleopatra, can hardly with any delight raise up the Ghost of a Rose."

    -Sir Thomas Browne

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the problem is there's little to no market for such florid stuff these days, though it wasn't considered 'bad' way back when... so, if you hope to sell what you write, you must write for today's readers, not those who're long dead and gone...
     
  3. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    what do publishers nowadays want?

    alot of the publishers for the SF&F magazines I try to submit stories to insist on deep and well-developed characters.

    honestly, the fiction these days, as far as Im concerned, pales in comparison to fiction written even several decades ago. Its terribly boring and I care nothing for the characters.

    is it that maybe all I need is the magic formula that the no-talent hacks use?:D
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not really possible to make a general statement about what publishers want. That's why you have to look at guidelines and read what they publish. They all want something different. No matter how good it is, even if McClelland and Stewart did sci-fi, they would never accept anything that Tor would take in a second.
     

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