I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor


Welcome to week 9 of the 52-week MFRW blog challenge.  Each week I will post something about that week’s topic. Ready to play?

This week’s prompt:  Words that make me go ick!

For me, that would be purple prose.

Do not use purple prose, euphemisms, words or phrases that make you uncomfortable. Use words that are appropriate, even if you are a little uncomfortable with them. Do not let your characters get so involved in the physical act that it becomes, quite disappointingly, mere sex. Readers do not want to hear all those cotton-soft euphemisms any more than they want to hear anything inappropriate to the scene. They want a sensual experience — seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. Do not neglect the “jarring” senses either, like talking, moving, thinking, — because that is where the sense of reality enters in.

Here is a good test of whether a word is worth using in a love scene. Say it aloud while you are in the midst of the love scene you are writing. Does it make you hot? Hotter? Alternatively, does it make you laugh aloud? If you laugh out loud, that is a pretty solid indication that it’s not a word you should use because your readers will probably do the same. Unless you are going for the humorous bit and then use it.

I have been stopped dead in my tracks many times while reading love scenes by words and phrases like “his manhood waved at me like a flagpole”, “his rod of pleasure”, “her honey pot” or “they soared on the wings of love and exploded into infinity.” “He stood over me, his eyes partially closed, his lips slightly parted, the hot breath hitching as his magnificent sword waved before me.” (Excuse me? His sword? Is he going to slice her head off?)

I cringe or laugh, sometimes both.  Along the same lines, certain words may be too crude, rude or shocking to use in your romance novel. This will depend on the subgenre. If you are writing a steeple hills sweet romance where they close the doors and turn the lights off, use of the words vulva, vagina, penis may be considered too vulgar. On the flip side if you are writing a BDSM erotica, using “his man-sword” instead of “cock” will leave your reader in a fit of giggles. OR maybe that’s your preferred method of masochism. If it is,  good luck with that.

If, as a writer, you are too uncomfortable to describe the scene, maybe you should choose a different genre.  Know your genre, know your audience, and don’t be surprised that someone will complain regardless.

Don’t forget this is a blog hop. Anyone can join at any point in the MFRW 52 week challenge…  Click here. Make sure you check out some of the other authors below.

You can find other posts in this series by yours truly here:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor


Write on my friends, write on!



11 comments on “I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor

  1. My grade 12 English teacher once said that in her youth the phrase “purple prose” simply meant poetic writing, and she bemoaned the fact that the term had become perjorative.


    • My high school English teacher said that we should never use the simple words, but rather we should consult the thesaurus if necessary to make our words more emphatic. In doing so, sometimes prose reads as a legal document with double speak and isn’t clear.
      I guess the bottom line is we all have our personal pet peeves and favorites, as well as perceptions.
      For example, I have a couple of British friends that toss around the C word and F bomb as if it were language learned in their primary school. It ( aw darn, look at what you made me do!!! – LOL) is shocking to me, but they don’t even think twice before using certain choice words.
      Writing styles vary between authors and between genres. Writing nonfiction is an altogether different beast than writing fiction. Similarly, the noire author would be appalled by HEA in most romances.
      Regarding purple prose, I’ve never seen any usage that meant poetic. Maybe because I didn’t read the right books? I dunno. I’ve read quite a variety of genres and styles. Thanks for taking the time to comment!


    • This raises some red flags to me for pedophilia. I know, it doesn’t necessarily mean that but it makes ME think that, so NO! The use of “daddy” during my ahem, interludes would conjure the image of my father in his tidy whities and tee shirt drinking a beer. NO THANKS! Unless of course he’s trying to convert me to become a nun.


  2. Yeah. that is terrible te swinging sword does nothing for me LOL! I also agree with Heather. I don’t want to hear the word Daddy in sex UGGGG!


    • Seriously!!! Who comes up with these things? Can you even imagine in the throes of passion, saying something about his flagpole? OF course, I guess it might be an ego booster but that’s akin to having him say something about my honeypot. NO thank you! HOneypot reminds me of Pooh bear, and that’s a childhood story – NOt in the middle of passion.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL his sword, her honey pot? I admit to giggling my way through my sex scenes. No matter how many times I write them I’m reduced to a little girl that’s gotten her hands on her mom’s romance book. I too dislike the use of ‘daddy’ for a lover. It’s an instant mood killer.


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