Purple Prose vs. the Real Deal

I spoke by Skype recently to a very gifted writer I’m mentoring, and he told me his previous attempts at fiction were an embarrassment of “purple prose,” the phrase writers use for overblown, overwritten language. He had, he said, cured himself of that failing. I told him his purge of purpleness was a fine goal.

But then I told him he might have gone too far.

By hacking out all the overwritten material, he had inadvertently cauterized his story’s lifeblood: the characters’ private thoughts and feelings. What I call their “Inscape.” He had reduced his characters to just actions. He’d left out the thing that readers crave to know: the “why.” The motivation.


Inscape is the only way a reader can get to know a character intimately. It’s the only map for discovering a character’s truest heart. Not what they say. Not even what they do on the surface of their lives. Inscape, instead, lays bare the person’s hidden self: their secret longings, their darkest fears, their private joys. Their deepest self.

Getting there, though, is a process. Writing is not a science, it’s an art. And sometimes we find our way to art by overdoing, by overwriting, by being overblown. Because that’s how we dig deep, how we plumb our characters’ most profound desires and fears.

Only by hauling up loads of ore can we sift and refine, and thereby find nuggets of gold.

So I say to thee, “Go forth and overwrite.” Then, my friends, wisely refine.

All my best,

P.S. Set out on the path to success as a writer with my exciting new online program “Your Path to a Page-Turner”.


Common Problem, Easy Fix

If you’re a writer, you delight in words. Word patterns. Word play. Word power. The love of words is in our DNA.

Words are also the most basic tool you have in creating a story. The wise writer chooses words very carefully.

Mentoring a writer recently, I pointed out that his use of Latinate words tended to weaken his prose. He asked what I meant by “Latinate,” and when I explained, he got it immediately and was eager to revise. So, let me share the concept with you, because it’s such an easy weakness to fix.

Latinate words are English words that have their origin in Latin. For centuries, Latin was the language of the educated classes (the clergy and lawyers), so people who wanted to sound educated used Latinate words. The habit persists to this day, and usually for the same reason: the wish to sound cultured. But Latinate words seldom have the power and clarity of ordinary, everyday English words – Anglo-Saxon words.

Latinate: He descended the stairs and exited his abode where he encountered the female who resided in the neighboring domicile. Observing her magnificent physique as she passed him, he contemplated his aspiration to engage her in conversation, and in supplementary acts.

Anglo-Saxon: He went downstairs and left his house where he came upon the woman who lived next door. Gazing at her buxom form as she passed him, he thought about how much he wanted to talk to her, and more.

George Orwell, author of Nineteen-Eighty-Four, and a master of robust, plain English, said: “A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”

So, be sincere to be clear. And, always, enjoy your love affair with words!


Take advantage of the low introductory price for my new online program, “Your Path to a Page-Turner.” You’ll learn how to create a book that excites agents and publishers and thrills readers. Sign up now – the low, introductory price disappears next week.

All my best,
Barbara Kyle


Your Path to Writing a Page-Turner


I’m so excited to share this with you. My new online program “Your Path to a Page-Turner” is now live.

I designed this program to help you create the kind of book that excites agents and publishers and thrills readers. A page-turner. A book that leaves people saying, “I couldn’t put it down!”

Ready to Move from Emerging Writer to Published Author?

It’s not as hard as you might think.

There are no rules in writing. (Well, just this one: Thou shalt not bore.) Seriously, every rule that’s ever been made has been broken by some writer to good effect. But, while there are no rules in writing, there are principles that have shaped the art of storytelling for centuries. A rule says: “You must do this.” A principle says: “This works, and it has worked through all of remembered time.”

Those principles are what you’ll learn in the “Your Path to a Page-Turner” program.

The Path to Success

In my career as the author of ten novels with sales of over half a million books, I’ve faced every challenge you’re facing now. With the “Your Path to a Page-Turner” Program, I’ll be your mentor on the path toward success.

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  • My 23 new videos covering the essentials of creating a book that will excite agents and publishers and thrill readers – plus insider tips on navigating the publishing industry.
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Want a preview? Here’s one of the program videos: Tips From a First Draft Survivor

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All my best,

Barbara Kyle


Grow as a writer. Dare to succeed