Oh, woe is me, the prose is purple.
I hope this post might raise a smile.
When I first started writing I spent a long time trying to learn how to put my ideas onto a page. One of the elements I struggled with was intimate sex scenes. Each time I tried it seemed like my mind froze. Someone encouraged me to relax, just write words and see what happened. Once I’d done that a few dozen times and ended up with something I wasn’t disappointed with things rolled on.
I didn’t consider myself a writer of erotic romance. I didn’t consider myself a writer at all. At best I’d have said I was a wannabe. There are many days still where I feel the same but over time I have worked hard to try to get my sex scenes right. Some readers have been kind enough to say they enjoy them and that’s great. So, imagine my horror when my one of my editors, a wonderful author and editor too, after looking at a couple of hot scenes I’d written, said, “Daisy, honey, in places the prose is purple.”
I hung my head in shame and headed for my contemplation corner with a large glass of red.
Now, the writers reading this will know what I mean as this can happen to us all sometimes, but just in case other readers don’t know what purple prose is, I’ll try to explain. Purple prose is when writers go over the top with flowery descriptive language, or over write in a scene or perhaps even a whole chapter. This can crop up anywhere in a story but it’s well known to occur in sensual romantic sex scenes. Often the language in the scene has too many clichés, or too many euphemisms are used. Not all writers are comfortable with some words, others are, and others still like to use those euphemisms to a certain degree. It’s all a question of jiggling the scene around until it feels right to the author. But the most important thing for the author is that the reader lives the moment, enjoys the read and doesn’t collapse in giggles or go yuck.
Here are some examples of the kind of things that might provoke laughter or a yuck attack. I picked these because they make me wince: crystalline sky blue orbs for eyes, tumescence for erection, nether lips for labia, heated nodule for clitoris, and perky nipples. I’ll have to explain about that last example. When I grew up there was a TV program for children. On Sunday nights Pinky and Perky, who were two little piglet puppets entertained us. I only have to read the word perky in reference to breasts and all I see is those two pink piglets with their bow ties and pork pie hats. The vision destroys the moment for me, always. That one is probably my own problem.
There is a lot more information about purple prose in this fabulous post written some time back by Deb Stover http://www.debstover.com/purple.html I recommend as it is so entertaining.
So, having identified the purple hues in my story and to improve the clarity of my scenes to give readers more enjoyment, I am editing those passages down to a hint of violet.
Thanks for reading.
Daisy Banks is the author of:
Marked for Magic
A Perfect Match
A Gentleman’s Folly
Your Heart My Soul
A Matter of Some Scandal
Daisy Banks writes a regular monthly story in the Sexy to Go compilations.
All Daisy’s books are available at