This is a term commonly related to birds though humans do a fair amount of preening themselves if you think about it. But what about writers? And no, I'm not talking about the fashions authors wear or make their characters wear. When trying to make our novels perfect we have to preen (edit/rewrite) to make the story shine.
Without a little preening then the sentences, chapters, and such can come out Plain. And plain takes the risk of being boring. While it's okay not to go over the top, we need to work on our stories, word choices and sentence structure to capture the attention of readers. In other words, we need to preen.
On the other hand, there is such thing as too much preening that leads to another set of P's. While plain text can lead to boring, preen too much and that can lend to Purple Prose.
Purple prose is a term used for writing that is over dramatic, over flowery, and in general, over done. With purple prose there tends to be over description and a number of adjectives used, among other things. In general, it is "too much." Another definition of purple prose is: writing that calls attention to itself because of its obvious use of certain effects, as exaggerated sentiment or pathos, especially in an attempt to enlist or manipulate the reader's sympathies. And in general, it is recommended to avoid this.
I am close to the preening stage. Once I get done with the highlighting, using colors to help me see things I need to fix, I will be preening to make the story shine (but not blind anyone).
Do you preen your words?
Do you struggle between plain and purple prose?