Purple prose is a term referring to parts of prose or entire works written in a manner so flowery or extravagant that it distracts the reader from what is actually being said.
The following can qualify as purple prose:
- Using a flowery word (like a poetic similitude) that interrupts the flow of the prose because it attracts too much attention to itself.
- Using an obscure word (especially if it's large) that will interrupt the flow of the story because the reader doesn't understand it.
- "Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise. Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with a driving force. Her clothes were unadorned, yet her beauty was undiminished. "
-From Eragon, Christopher Paolini
- "Madeline Ruszel paused beside a drekma tree. The exobiology chief was flushed with fatigue. Beads of sweat ran down from the mass of auburn waves at her temple to the corners of her full young mouth. She frowned up at him, marring the Grecian delicacy of her face.
“Are you okay?” she asked professionally.
-From The Morcai Battalion, Diana Palmer
- "The weather-beaten trail wound ahead into the dust racked climes of the barren land which dominates large portions of the Norgolian empire. Age-worn hoof prints smothered by the sifting sands of time shone dully against the dust splattered crust of earth. The tireless sun cast its parching rays of incandescence from overhead, half way through its daily revolution. Small rodents scampered about, occupying themselves in the daily accomplishments of their dismal lives. Dust sprayed over three heaving mounts in blinding clouds, while they bore the burdensome cargoes of their struggling overseers."
-From The Eye of Argon, Jim Theis.
- "He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare. His glistening, pale lavender lids were shut, though of course he didn’t sleep. A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal."
- From Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
- Original Writerium Article