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Complaining: Purple Prose
Deadlock Clock: 29th Apr '14 11:59 PM
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Complaining: Purple Prose get usage counts

 26 nrjxll, Fri, 3rd Jan '14 6:43:00 PM Relationship Status: Not war
Rarely complimentary and downright whiny are not the same thing. Even if the specific term "purple prose" is usually used in a negative sense, what it's generally used to describe is a more neutral trope. The quoted definition is not something I think we want to pattern a page after.

See also: Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which was coined as an insult but is used for a neutral trope.

 27 Willbyr, Tue, 4th Feb '14 6:26:51 PM from North Little Rock, AR Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
With Mod Hat On
Upon receipt of a perfunctory notice that this koffeeklatch of mellifleury has become pointedly stale and distressingly cobwebbed, I have therefore attached a notification of its demise in 72 hours, in the absence of a satisfactory course of action being compromised upon and duly executed.

edited 4th Feb '14 6:29:22 PM by Willbyr

 28 The Handle, Tue, 4th Feb '14 6:27:34 PM from Location, Location, Loca
... what?
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 29 Another Duck, Tue, 4th Feb '14 9:29:08 PM from Stockholm Relationship Status: Chocolate!
No, the other one.
Thread is clocked.
Check out my fanfiction!
 30 The Handle, Wed, 5th Feb '14 3:38:04 AM from Location, Location, Loca
Okay, I'm seeing a lot of examples that do not fit the definition ("stretches of conspicuously florid prose used to patch up boring moments") at all. There are many that are simply "florid prose" in general. There are others that have it meshed in such a way that it's Sophisticated as Hell rather than this. There is Lavender Unicorn Syndrome. There are Technicolor Eyes. And so on and so forth.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 31 shoboni, Thu, 6th Feb '14 7:25:01 PM from Iowa, USA
Personally, I say leave it because we've censored the wiki so as not to offend people enough at this point. There's a fine line between removing bashing and being a door-mat, and fear we're starting to cross it.
"It's not that simple. We are all both, good and evil, we have rage and compassion, we have love and hate...murder and forgiveness."
 32 The Handle, Fri, 7th Feb '14 12:24:54 AM from Location, Location, Loca
It's not a matter of being a doormat, it's a matter of precision and quality, both of which are sacrificed here in the altar of Snark and Cheap Shots. The more I look at this page, the more I see a problem of Misuse and Lack of Clarity. Obviously a prose that obscures the meaning with Big Words and overwrought metaphors is not the best material to make a Self Demonstrating description article from, because all people seem to have gotten from it was "this is for flowery prose I don't like", which, in practice, translates to "any flowery prose except for those of the Classic Masters, unless another Classic Master is insulting them for it, in which case I'll let them do the bashing".

More importantly, I am 100% behind being a "doormat"; the content of a wiki stabilizes at consensus. This wiki does not have an ideological mission, it does not stand for some cause, it wants to catalogue and classify the tropes in fiction, in a way that takes as little time out of its volunteer managers as possible.

edited 7th Feb '14 12:27:20 AM by TheHandle

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 33 Gnome Titan, Fri, 7th Feb '14 1:03:06 AM Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
It's not about not offending people. It's about keeping on-topic (the topic of the wiki is tropes, not bashing works you don't like or gushing about those you like), avoiding "This works sucks!/Not it doesn't!/Does too!" discussions, and keeping the discussion reasonably objective.

And here I see a big problem with Purple Prose as a trope: there is no objective definition. To me, it rather seems as a derogative label put on florid prose you don't like. If you like it, it's not purple. So does it really fit here? Is it even a trope?

edited 7th Feb '14 1:06:24 AM by GnomeTitan

 34 The Handle, Fri, 7th Feb '14 1:57:11 AM from Location, Location, Loca
If you manage to read through the horrible article (or check Wikipedia), you'll find that it does have an objective definition: namely, a cross between Mundane Made Awesome and Padding, where inherently dull transtitions are made more entertaining by describing them with florid language, when such language is not cohesive with the general style of the text, and, therefore, sticks out and draws attention to itself, hurting immersion along the way.

edited 7th Feb '14 1:58:16 AM by TheHandle

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
Purple Prose is literary term that certainly has a place on this wiki. It also has a generally recognized, pre-existing definition that our article should use.

The only question in my mind is how we should treat examples, given that the negative connotation of Purple Prose and given that even in the pre-existing definition, it is generally acknowledges that there is a certain amount of subjectivity as to when exactly something crosses the purple line.

edited 7th Feb '14 5:29:36 AM by Catbert

 36 The Handle, Fri, 7th Feb '14 5:59:59 AM from Location, Location, Loca
There are definitely a bunch of examples that don't fit the standard definition. If we make Purple Prose a subtrope of "Florid Prose", for example, that could do. But an instance of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome or referring to a character's eyes with exotic colour descriptors does not fit the definition.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 37 peccantis, Fri, 7th Feb '14 7:01:44 AM Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
the flies will find you
[up] We don't have an article named Main/Lavender Unicorn Syndrome. We do, however have:

Fan Fic/Lavender Unicorn Syndrome

edited 7th Feb '14 7:01:55 AM by peccantis

before the darkness arrives
 38 The Handle, Fri, 7th Feb '14 7:56:19 AM from Location, Location, Loca
Lavender Unicorn Syndrome or burly detective syndrome is when you unnecessarily replace a character's name with a descriptor. Again, in the YKTTW, they call it "a form of Purple Prose", which it is not.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 39 shoboni, Fri, 7th Feb '14 9:49:35 AM from Iowa, USA
Purple Prose isn't just florid, it's when it's so florid it becomes borderline unreadable.
"It's not that simple. We are all both, good and evil, we have rage and compassion, we have love and hate...murder and forgiveness."
 40 The Handle, Fri, 7th Feb '14 10:15:48 AM from Location, Location, Loca
Not quite. Purple prose is a form of padding where you make inherently dull moments more entertaining by overusing pretty words. Readability has nothing to do with it. That would be another trope, one we do not have yet.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 41 shoboni, Fri, 7th Feb '14 10:21:01 AM from Iowa, USA
Which can make it near-unreadable.
"It's not that simple. We are all both, good and evil, we have rage and compassion, we have love and hate...murder and forgiveness."
 42 The Handle, Fri, 7th Feb '14 10:35:36 AM from Location, Location, Loca
Yes but that is neither sufficient nor necessary for the trope to apply. Readability is as much a function of the reader as it is of the text.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 43 shoboni, Fri, 7th Feb '14 7:46:39 PM from Iowa, USA
You've obviously never read really bad narration if you think it's always the readers problem.
"It's not that simple. We are all both, good and evil, we have rage and compassion, we have love and hate...murder and forgiveness."
The Handle seems to be persisting under the belief that the term "Purple Prose" is not pejorative and is about making things more entertaining. Nothing can be further from the truth. It is almost invariably an insult denoting bad writing. Our page should reflect that. That being said, I do think that outside of examples intentionally invoked or lampshaded, it is a subjective thing.

I think the following would be a good model for our approach to this page.

http://theadvancededit.com/academic-writing/purple-prose-what-it-is-and-how-to-avoid-it/

Purple prose is the name given to writing — or, well, prose– that’s just too flowery and too melodramatic for its own good. In other words, just way too much.

“Why would purple prose be a bad thing?”

Well, it clouds the meaning behind your writing and, frankly, doesn’t flatter the writer very well. By its sheer verbosity, purple prose can turn off your reader greatly– which is not a good thing to do if your reader happens to be your professor.

That being said, there actually is no ultimate, absolute definition of what constitutes prose, nor is there a definite list of symptoms. Figuring out whether you have in fact fallen victim to purple prose is often a subjective decision– one person’s purple prose may be another person’s vivid description. Unfortunately (or, fortunately, depending on who you are), this is largely a judgment call.

edited 7th Feb '14 7:58:47 PM by Catbert

 45 the Adeptrogue, Fri, 7th Feb '14 9:55:05 PM Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
@The Handle: I don't know what definition of Purple Prose you are using, but the general consensus I found agrees that Purple Prose is a form of bad writing.

As far as the basic description goes, it's when a piece of writing is needlessly ornate or flowery language, though the key word here is - I suppose - "needlessly". The use of flowery/ornate language that is "done well" is apparently not considered Purple Prose, and the distinction between "excessive" and "well-done" is very blur.

Some people may cringe at any form of descriptions that isn't Beige Prose (hence the complaining in the Examples section) while others may find these excessive descriptors appealing (I know several people who likes The Inheritance Cycle for precisely this reason).

At the very least, I think this page needs a YMMV tag. Examples can be cleaned up to be more objective, or limited to deliberate cases - though I'd personally rather see them just removed altogether.

 46 The Handle, Sat, 8th Feb '14 5:21:55 AM from Location, Location, Loca
[up]There are several examples that the editor thought were "Done Well". Gustave Flaubert and H.P. Lovecraft, among others, are mentioned. I myself find Lovercraft's prose tedious, unimpressive, and overcrafted by today's standards, but you don't see me bitching.

There is one article on Wikipedia to define the term, and it appears to lack citations. Apparently, the term "purple prose" comes from a poem that complains of a work that's otherwise good being bogged down by "purple patches".

In literary criticism, purple prose is written prose that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It may also employ certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader's response.

When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages; these are often noted as standing out from the rest of the work.

So:
  • Purple Prose: draws excessive attention to itself, is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context, and is manipulative of the reader's feelings. In other words, it violates the Law of Conservation of Detail and/or Show, Don't Tell, by distracting and detracting from the story or by telling the reader how to feel.
  • Purple Patches: when it does that in localized stretches of prose, that are all the more conspicuous and jarring for it.

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
I think people are starting to repeat themselves. It might be time to go to a crowner.

What are some possible actions we can take to fix this page?

My proposal would be to make this a YMMV page, but also allow for examples that are objectively invoked In-Universe, sort of like Stylistic Suck.

edited 8th Feb '14 9:00:20 AM by Catbert

 48 the Adeptrogue, Sat, 8th Feb '14 9:52:46 AM Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
That seems to be for the best (since all my posts here have been pretty much saying the same points over and over again), and I agree with the [up] proposal.

Do we have any other options?

 49 Another Duck, Sat, 8th Feb '14 11:37:57 AM from Stockholm Relationship Status: Chocolate!
No, the other one.
I don't think it would work without allowing for invoked examples.

I wonder if making it YMMV would cause the examples to go out of control with people justifying bad examples with it.
Check out my fanfiction!
 50 The Handle, Sat, 8th Feb '14 5:48:55 PM from Location, Location, Loca
It is already YMMV by definition.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
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