Purple Prose

It’s supposed to be a criticism, isn’t it? That is dreadfully purple prose, how distracting and unnecessary, totally ruins the story! It’s a valid criticism when it comes to fiction, I suppose. Most fiction, anyway; I’ll defend Poppy Z. Brite’s ‘Swamp Foetus’ to the death, in ALL its lurid glory.

The one place I think purple prose fits, is in erotica. Specifically, in erotic hypnosis. Why? Because your mind is so open to suggestion, that it soaks up all those over-wrought details like a sponge, and feels them. There is emotion infused in those gleefully descriptive phrases, and intensity of sensation. To describe them is to bring them to life, to have you experience them as reality. There is more power in “Your dick flushes deep red and swells almost painfully hard in your cupped hand. You feel the sweat break out on your forehead, tingles creeping down your spine like sharp fingernails as you contemplate the order you’ve been given and the vicious intent behind it” than in “Your dick gets hard when she tells you what to do“.

There is an art to erotic description. A fine line between ‘what is this flowery bullshit?’ and ‘goddamn that was hot!’ It’s not always an easy line to locate, and it’s not an easy line to walk. But when it works? Good God, it works! I like to think I have a pretty decent grasp of when and how to employ this particular strategy, though I’ve been guilty a time or two of pushing it too far just for my own amusement. (Unrepentant, deal with it.)

I wonder though, is this something that only I care about? Is lurid and aggressively descriptive language a turn on for you, or too much when you’d prefer to let your imagination fill in the blanks? I am genuinely curious, so speak up. Comment, DM me @LaceLibertine, drop me an email. I want to know your thoughts on the best way to write erotica. Or why not share some of your own? If you’re brave enough. 😉

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