BlogHow to Use ProWritingAidImprove Your Writing Tip #9: Beware of Purple Prose

Improve Your Writing Tip #9: Beware of Purple Prose

The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Published Jul 09, 2018

Improve your writing

I'm clever. I want others to know I'm clever, too.

Thinking like this can lead you into one of the biggest pitfalls of the aspiring writer: Purple Prose. Purple Prose is writing that is so extravagant and flowery that it draws excessive attention to itself. This includes clever words, adverbs, and adjectives.

The phrase "Purple Prose" comes from a paragraph by the Roman poet Horace: "Your opening shows great promise, and yet flashy purple patches; as when describing a sacred grove, or the altar of Diana, or a stream meandering through fields, or the river Rhine, or a rainbow; but this was not the place for them. If you can realistically render a cypress tree, would you include one when commissioned to paint a sailor in the midst of a shipwreck?"

There are plenty of ways to be clever in writing aside from using phrases like "preternaturally diaphanous." Use direct prose that effectively communicates a feeling or idea. Words that distract from those goals are likely purple.

Use our writing improvement software to catch your Purple Prose.

Next improve your writing tip: Improve Your Writing Tip #10: Chop away deadwood.

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The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

The most successful people in the world have coaches. Whatever your level of writing, ProWritingAid will help you achieve new heights. Exceptional writing depends on much more than just correct grammar. You need an editing tool that also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre. ProWritingAid helps you find the best way to express your ideas.