Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Preen

Preen - (verb) to make oneself appear striking or smart in dress or appearance.

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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?


Creepy Query Girl said...

I hadn't heard the term 'Purple Prose' before but I definitely know what you're talking about!

nutschell said...

I can't wait to get to my own Preening stage
Happy A-Zing!

The Hopeful Romantic said...

Definitely! I try to go for a bit of a mind dump and then go back and redine. The key is to keep checking that it remains true to what you were trying to achieve and maybe save the work at various edit stages. Good luck with the preening!

Dawn Embers said...

Query Girl - I hadn't heard of purple prose until I took part in a purple prose blogfest.

nutschell - It's all kinds of fun. *tries not to lie* lol

The Hopeful Romantic - It's hard to find the happy medium without going insane from checking too much, but we all find our way there.

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Ah we all need a little preening from time to time.


Dawn Embers said...

Denise - Very true. After all this work and not doing much else, I could use some preening.

L. M. Leffew said...

I definitely preen. But I'm pretty good about staying away from the purple prose these days.

I love description, but I want it to be tight and sharp. Sometimes I have to go through layers of slightly purple tinged words before I get where I want to be.

Dawn Embers said...

L. M. Leffew - Nice to hear. I'm struggling with description but I tend more toward plain. Good luck to you.