Saturday, March 15, 2008

Purple Prose - Pros and Cons

I've been working on a romantica novella lately and I often have to stop during the love scenes to contemplate my language choices. Should I use flowery purple prose or clinical terms? How about raunchy ones? For me, this all depends on whose head I'm in. Is the scene written in an innocent heroine's POV? Or is it the alpha male tough guy? Or perhaps the hero or heroine is somewhere in between (as is usually the case).
But I wonder what readers prefer. Is it too jarring to call a body part something raunchy? Is less detail spelled out better? Do you prefer the bedroom door closed all together or just cracked open a bit? Personally, when I read a sex scene I don't want a play by play, but a little detail, a few hints at what's going on. I'd rather use my imagination to fill in the blanks.
Truly purple prose went out with big eighties hair, but I sometimes like it, particularly in historicals.
What about you? How do you like your love scenes?

1 comment:

Brynn Paulin said...

I don't think romantica readers are terribly jarred by more graphic terms. However if you use flowery language or purple prose, your editor is very likely to flag it and ask you to make changes.

I think the terms you use should be very character oriented. You're right about that. An innocent heroine is quite unlikely to use more raunchy terms.

As for detail, in romantica, I find that you certainly need to be far more detailed than in other romances. Not every instance of sex needs to be spelled out, but certainly some of it should be fairly graphic.