How To Improve Your Prose Writing

Fiction is written in prose, which is a way of writing in ordinary everyday speech. It sounds simple, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s essential to learn how to improve your prose writing if you want to become an author and write novels that readers enjoy. It’s a given that a reader must want turn those pages and part of the author’s craft is to ensure that his written language facilitates that – if the reader doesn’t turn the page, your goose is cooked! The story must be told in a direct, straightforward way. This means that any part of your prose writing that distracts from the story should be removed, or revised. This post gives many prose writing tips that will catapult your writing into another gear. They are easy to understand and simple to implement. Page Content: How To Write Better Prose – Unnecessary and Fancy Words How To Write Good Prose – Writing in the active or passive voice Special Punctuation – Colons, emi-Colons, En-dash, Em-dash and Ellipsis How To Write Numbers In Prose Ways To Improve Prose Writing – How To Use Interjections In Prose What Makes Good Prose? Remove Clichés and Over-used Words Writing Good Prose – How To Use Adverbs and Adjectives Prose Writing Tips – Absolutes and Over-generalizations Variety In Prose Towards Perfect Prose – Vague writing and initial coordinating conjunctions How To Write Better Prose – Unnecessary and Fancy Words I’ll be talking about unnecessary, overused and overly fancy words because these words can largely be erased from your manuscript while improving its readability. It’s quite surprising how many words are unnecessary and can simply be removed without having the slightest effect on sentence meaning. In fact it often makes the prose much clearer. It makes it more direct and more easily understood. Let’s take a look at some of these word types together with some examples. ‘Down’ and ‘up’ are two of the most common words we can delete. For example, if we sit ‘down’ on a chair, normally we lower our body to sit anyway, so the word down is not needed. We can simply erase it. If someone stands ‘up’ the same thing applies. When we stand we generally move upwards, so the word up is not required. We can simply say he stood to greet them. In this sentence I’ve added four words separated by […]

What is Purple Prose? Definition & Discussion (Guest Post)

When Ariana Paxton approached me to write a guest post on, we agreed on the subject and title pretty quickly – ‘What Is Purple Prose?’ No doubt due to my past education (and biases, attitudes and experiences!) I naturally assumed the article would explain that PP was bad, bad, bad, but this is not the case. Rather than reject this alternative point of view, I decided to post it in its entirety, as it flies against the winds of accepted creative writing practice, at least for writers of fiction. In prose, the two extremes are the Purple variety with its long sentences and lavishly descriptive passages, and the style of Hemingway, which is economical with words and punchy in style, expressing the story and even dialogue in short sentences. For most of us, the most comfortable way of writing is somewhere between the two, but with a definite lean towards frugality. Purple Prose Example (Yes, its one of mine!) I wrote a draft of a first tentative novel many years ago. It never surfaced into the public domain, a fact I am now dearly grateful for! The style was ‘purplish’, which is par for the course when starting out. Sentences such as the one below were common throughout the manuscript: “The gold incisor of the mustachio’d bandit glinted seductively in the opalescent moonlight as his caballeros waited in the bushes, waiting for the next hapless traveller to stumble across their planned ambush.” Whew! Just tires you out reading it doesn’t it? I don’t speak in this way, so why on Earth should I write in this style? The answer is that new writers don’t know how to write, almost by definition. I made the common mistake thinking that a writer must impress by showing knowledge of an extensive vocabulary and creating rambling sentences in the hope of sounding somehow ‘literary’. In fact, the opposite is true (mostly!) What Is Prose, When It’s Not Purple? Prose is a lot like normal speech and should be used to tell a story in such a way that the reader is given all the information need to follow and enjoy the story. Of course, the style, or the way we manipulate the words we use are important, and this develops with time as we find our own particular voice. It isn’t necessary to regurgitate the dictionary every time we put pen to paper. […]