Avoiding Purple Prose

 

Many readers shut the book or turn off their eReader when they see too much prose that’s purple!  It’s really best to avoid it.  First, though, what’s purple prose?

Wikipedia has to say this about it:

In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself.[1] Purple prose is characterized by the extensive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.

Wikipedia further gives this amusing example:

“On occasion, one finds oneself immersed in the literary throes of a piece of prose where there is very little in the way of advancement of the plot or development of the characters, but the pages are still filled with words. Since the esteemed author has allowed their writing to take a turn for the dry and dull, they gallantly attempt to overcompensate for the lack of stimulation by indulging in elaborate turns of phrase.”[8]                 – Liz Bureman

The best way I’ve found to avoid this literary pitfall is this: write simply.  If you use good, vivid words, it will help you avoid using excess words to make your point.

It’s really worthwhile to go through a manuscript and look for places where you could have said something more simply, clearly, and effectively.  While it’s impossible avoid adjectives, trimming excessive ones can help your work.  Always strive to make one paragraph flow naturally into another, without anything to jolt your reader out of the story you are telling.

When using metaphor, simple is usually best.  Make sure your metaphors aren’t cliched.  A cliche not only kicks the reader out of the story, but it often makes them stop thinking about what you have said.  A great metaphor engages the senses simply, but in a way that makes the reader share the experience you are presenting.

To further avoid prose of a purplish color, break up your sentences.  Also, make sure your words are active, not passive.  Sometimes it helps you read your work aloud.  This lets us hear how the story is flowing, and find the faults more easily.  Many times I’ve read a finished story out loud, only to make half a dozen corrections as I go along.

As I have simplified my writing and gotten away from purple prose, I’ve seen it improve tremendously.  If you’re like me, you can too.

via Daily Prompt: Purple

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/purple/

Featured Artist – Michelle Kowalczyk

Michelle Kowalczyk is an artist from Melbourne with a fascinating body of work.  Her talents are wide ranging.  She can make beautiful marine and botanical drawings, paint in oils, do lovely digital art, and she even works with fashion and furniture art.  One of her recent commissioned works is an oil painting on a laptop!

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I was fortunate enough to interview Michelle, and get her thoughts on a few subjects.

Welcome to Mindflight, Michelle!  My first question for you us, what’s your favorite form of art?

My Favorite form of art is Oil Painting yet I am biased since this is also my favorite medium, however I believe that artists and art lovers should never let themselves be limited by one form of art, they need to allow the endless possibilities of all forms to influence their appreciation of art. Fashion, sculpture, photography and installations are interests of mine however, I tend to be drawn more to the artworks that possess a focus on using technical skill and hard work in their creation. To me that means the artist has put more of themselves into an artwork and to me that is what great art is. It’s time, effort, thought, self, intention and skill, it’s not the scrap work that should be filed in the studio as sample or trial work, it is the product of obsessive perfection that is cultivated into that final work of art.

I find myself completely agreeing with you.  So, what’s your favorite artist?

My favorite artist is Titian, however I also have a soft spot for fantasy artists Julie Bell and Luis Royo. These three have technical skill that I can only aspire to and they have all mastered the human figure to a level that I can only dream of. Also, the fan girl inside of me revels in the fantasy side of the art that both Bell and Royo are truly masters of.

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Do you have a piece of advice for people who are just beginning?

For those who are just beginning to venture into the art world, I know it sounds cliche, however practice the basics, start looking at the subject matter not as whole, but in smaller sections that you can break down to the simplest brush or pencil strokes. If you can master thinking like this even the most complicated and complex idea can be transformed into what you imagine it can be. For oil painting you break down the layers of paint then build them up on your canvas, for drawing its shape form that can be simplified into simplistic lines that can be used as the foundation of more complex details…

I could go on, but its really those basics that can travel over all disciplines. Also practice not because you shouldn’t listen to yourself when you think this is a shitty drawing I can’t draw but because by practicing you are improving your hand to eye control and inevitably you will improve even if that’s only because muscle memory begins to play a part in your development. Practice makes perfect isn’t a saying or old wives tale based on a lie like eating crusts will make your hair curly, it’s a mantra that really does work.

I’d also tell artists not to limit themselves by only focusing on art they know they love. Inspiration can be found even in the art we hate because we see what would not want to do ourselves and every little artwork helps us to evolve our opinions and our art.

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What is a challenge to you as an artist?

I suffer from perfectionism. There are hundreds of artworks and drawings that never even get released onto the internet because really it’s just not good enough and I want to share only the artworks that make the cut. It also means I spend a lot of money on supplies and time on sample pieces so that the final artwork design is something I am not ashamed to share. last year my studio had 230 artworks they were left unfinished due to a flaw or they were scrapped into my black book. To this moment there less than 30 That I would even consider worth exhibiting. My current abstract works are my attempt to alleviate the negative toss away must be perfect outlook I struggle with by giving me some room for error in the abstract area. As a result I’m beginning to create artwork I feel might just be good enough to finally start exhibiting with. Hopefully end of this year or next I will work to have my first solo exhibition.

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The same corset, in the dark

What’s your favorite thing about art?

My favorite thing about art is the intense control and meditative care it requires. I need the control it creates for me, not because I am erratic or insane but because its what keeps me happy. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am and I definitely wouldn’t have the self control and focus I do in my everyday life. For me art is my tai chi and without it I wouldn’t recognize myself. My favorite thing about it is that its the part of me I love the most and it helps me to work out my issues and thoughts while sharing a glimmer of what my overactive imagination conjures in the guise of something beautiful.

Thank you very much for stopping by, and I wish you the best in your career!  If anyone wants to see your work, I’ll place some links below.

Thank so much for featuring me!

If anyone wants to check out more of Michelle’s art, feel free to check out these links.  There’s far more to find than I could show here!

Her art site

Her DeviantArt profile

Her Instagram

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Lenore Plassman – Other than Ordinary

Today we have an author, poet, gardener, and animal rights advocate named Lenore Plassman.  Her specialty is short stories and she writes poetry prolifically.  It’s a pleasure to have her on Friday Feature!

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What is your favorite kind of book to read?

All types but there must be elements of poetry and brain marbles rolling to keep my attention.  There must be scads of careful detail and delight in the literary landscape.

What is your favorite genre to write?

My favorite genre- to write?  Poetry creeps into everything I scribble so I’m going with poetry.

What makes you feel most creative?

Exact here: what makes me feel most creative?  Trees and waterscapes; creeks and rivers and inlets and islands. And characters, human or otherwise; rocks and nature and trails that test my strength and of course botanicals of all sorts.

What is your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenges are my wide feet and my inability to not be clumsy when dancing.  Please do not ask me to sing.
When you were young, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was young did I know I wanted to be a writer?  No.  A teacher suggested I could write as well as read so I did then from there the people around me watched me write but never nudged me in any direction or form.  I just did so I was. A writer.

Do you have any advice for a person who wants to be a writer?

Advice for someone wanting to be a writer?  Quit wishing.  Get out and examine what is you.  What interests you. How exactly is that interest uniquely you- I do not want to read your work on green grass.  I want to read your work on how one day your Grandma twisted plaits of grass in your hair and from then on grass meant Grandma and summer. I want to read that.

Were any books or authors particularly influential to you?

Folks who influenced me: in particular.  Walt Whitman.  Hemingway.  Faulkner.  To some extent, Emily Dickinson.

What are you working on now?

I’m in a lull.  I write poetry as it flies in; recording what is around me.  I’m also working on interviewing community members and garnering articles from them.  I have never thought of myself as a journalist so this is a literary dance that stretches my horizons.  I’m enjoying the experience though I also have stage fright about it.

If you could do anything special with your writing, what would it be?

I’d like to watch a person who never thought they could ever carve out a literary gem, do that.  I’d like to see that person laugh when their loved one came back to them, delighted at their effort.  I’d like to witness that gotcha moment.  That would be nice.

Here’s a little more info about her:

Lenore’s poetry and short stories derive mostly from her love of nature and the things living in it, as well as the colorful characters she has known as child and adult.

Lenore became serious about writing at about age 8, with the encouragement of a special teacher. This led her eventually to study English at the University of Washington.

Her experience caring for animals in a veterinary clinic, living in farming country, and working in elder care adds richness and interest to her narratives.

Lenore’s creative imagination takes form in her three acre which she calls her Private World. Here, numerous pocket gardens, a cow stanchion (last remnant of her family’s farm), a hillside fountain, and other colorful surprises sharing space with chickens, dogs, cats, and a burro. A painting of Gandalf guards one shed-side, Smaug the other.

A respite is found here, for friends and visitors, from city humdrumness. Several times a year Lenore journeys to Western Washington to hike in the Cascades, study and participate in writing workshops. All of the photography shown in these pages are places she has walked and from which she continues to learn.

In Lenore’s words:

“I generally allow my work to stand up and speak for itself. Currently I am stationed in the arid side of Washington state. I am a co-CEO of a small holding. I care for various birds, a burro, gardens. My husband and I take prybars to rocks in the garden and hope for rain. And sometimes poetry worms its way out of those rocks and sagebrush. Imagery never leaves my side. Bast, the cat Goddess, reigns, clawing poetic snippets out when I’d rather She left me alone.”

Her thoughts and writings can be found here:

Creative-fancy.org

Her books can be found here:

Books

Check out her most recent poetry chapbook!

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via Daily Prompt: Ordinary

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ordinary/

A Painful Symptom: Treating the dreaded leg cramp

Whether from exertion in the heat or a night time charley horse, cramps are no fun at all.  Just the other night, I was nearly crippled by a nasty cramp in my ankle that seriously threatened my ability to walk and drive.  Luckily, I knew what to do and the painful spasm was cleared in just a minute or two.  You can do the same!

Prevention

Stretch your legs before bed and/or lightly massage them.

Don’t tense your muscles or point your toes in bed.

Supplement with calcium – tablet style antacids like Tums work great for this.

Eat enough potassium.  A banana is easily absorbed and cheap too.

Magnesium is also said to help.  This can be found in nuts as well as other places.

Drink enough water, especially if you’ve been exercising in the heat.

Treatment

When the cramp first hits, flex your foot if it’s in the leg.  If it’s somewhere else, relieve the tension on it and try to work the muscle around.  Massage the muscle.

Stand on the foot if possible, but take it easy – you don’t want to strain your muscle.

Stretch the muscles gently.  The pain will go away eventually – breathe through it.

Drink some potassium bearing substance right away.

Gatorade, Powerade, Pedialyte, or any generic sports drink.

Coconut water is also great for potassium replenishment.

The Ultimate Cramp Fix

This last remedy deserves a section of its own.  It might sound strange but it really, actually works.  When I have a very nasty cramp, I drink a couple ounces of pickle juice and the cramp is usually completely gone within just a couple of minutes.  If you don’t have juice, eat a couple of plain dill pickles.  This is actually science based. Even for stubborn cramps, this remedy works faster than anything else.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Symptom

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/symptom/

Minimalism is a Mindset

A person can donate all their possessions to charity and still end up with a cluttered home within a year unless they change their mindset.

I have had to give up most of my things several times in my life.  More than once, I’ve had to fit everything I owned into a carload.  I was good at finding things at good deals, so I’d always end up with twice as much stuff within a few months!  A lot of my security came from having stuff.

This started to change when I had to drive across several states with only the things I could fit on and in my Hyundai Elantra and it’s home made roof rack – including bedding, tent, sacks of dried rice and beans, clothes, spouse, and two cats.  After that I never wanted to have too much stuff again.

The stuff crept in again but not as quickly as before.  I started to focus on quality rather than quantity.  When I had to move one more time, I had better resources for moving everything but used that move as a reason to rid myself of more dross and replace it with more good quality items.

I can see the effect of my mindset changing – smaller spaces look larger as I have less furniture.  I have more time in my day because I don’t have to organize things.  I can find everything easily.  Once, I was famous for always losing things.  Now, I know where everything I need is, right away, and I find it the first time.

Life is a bit more satisfying as I move from plastic to glass and metal and get rid of disposable things around my home.  I feel more settled.  As the things I use grow fewer in number, but more beautiful, my life feels more like art rather than common drudgery.  I haven’t had to spend a lot more money to do this, but I have had to be intentional about my purchases and choose quality over convenience or quantity.  I still have a long way to go.  However, my changing mindset has brought peace to my life and home!

 

via Daily Prompt: Minimal

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/minimal/

Avoiding Controversy: Advice for Transsexuals

I was at a public event recently and saw several transgendered people. I shouldn’t have been able to spot them so easily but they made it really obvious. It made me think. Two in particular made very little effort to pass as female. They drew attention to themselves, stuck out like sore thumbs and sadly, looked like drag queens rather than women.

A transwoman is a real woman – according to her brain structure, that is. She’s trying to make her body and public image match how she feels inside. At least, she should be.

Too many transwomen seem to think they need to make a spectacle of themselves. Apparently certain individuals feel a need to be “loud and proud” about their transition. They often make little to no effort to truly pass as female.

They speak with loud, deep voices, they stand facing the toilet in the bathroom, they wear eye catching, loud clothing. They wear high heels even when six feet tall. They use vibrant, often badly applied makeup. Sometimes, some transwomen will think they can still wear jeans and traditionally masculine clothes. They try to wear a dress while they are sporting five o’clock shadow and no make up. All these things catch the eye and make their status obvious, when a little effort would avoid these problems.

Unfortunately, there are very serious consequences to their actions. Transwomen who don’t try to pass aren’t just making decisions for themselves, they are affecting many other people too. To put it bluntly, irresponsible transfolk draw negative attention to the community, and may even cause people to be beaten or murdered.

Consider the following scenario: There are several people who were born male but are making their best effort to fully become women. They work hard to pass as women. They moderate their voices, they dress in a feminine way, they act in feminine ways. They simply want to live their lives quietly, as women, and give no one any trouble. They don’t call attention to themselves, spending their time working, playing, and being normal people.

Picture now, in this scenario, what might happen if a masculine looking person who is six feet tall with a deep voice walks into a room with them. This person is wearing high heels, bright makeup, a badly stuffed bra, and is looking like a drag queen. She’ll probably freak out those who are intolerant, hateful, or fearful. She might even incite violence. At the least, she’ll inspire plenty of nasty comments. She’ll also draw attention to any person around her who is also sexually ambiguous.

Hypervigilance toward gender differences can lead to tragedy. It causes masculine looking women to be beaten and thrown out of bathrooms, as you can see if you’ve followed the news. A very poorly passing trans woman sensitizes bigoted individuals, pushes the issue into everyone’s faces, and frightens the intolerant into even more hypervigilance.

A transwoman who is busy “following her own bliss” and doesn’t take care with her appearance or actions not only puts others in danger, gives the entire community a bad name. They make people think all trans folk are drag queens, clowns, or circus side show acts. It’s very hard for someone such as myself to say “trans folk just want to live normal, civilized lives and blend in with society,” when there are so many six foot tall, inconsiderate, poorly passing “women” who think that it’s all a lark and figuratively jump up and down shouting “look at me! I’m trans! I’m trans!”

For women who truly are trying to transition, it isn’t a game for them, nor is it a joke. It’s a deadly serious choice between a painful, difficult, expensive process and inevitable suicide. Transwomen who make it all the way through gender transition have gone through more struggle and heartache than almost anyone else in the world. It takes tremendous courage and determination to be successful. The public perception of transition as a simple surgery is woefully inaccurate, in actuality it takes at least a year, including intensive counseling and hormone treatments.

If you’re trans, I cheer for you. If you support trans folk, I’m with you all the way. That’s why I wrote this article. I care about the trans community and I want everyone to be whole and free to achieve their own goals. We will never be free of hateful people, they’re everywhere, so why not do what we can to help each other and help ourselves at the same time?

Helpful tips:

For any transfolk who want to pass more successfully, I’d like to offer the following advice. I got it from friends of mine who are successful transwomen.

For the successful transsexual, the goal is to blend in to society.
The more gender cues you can display, the better. This is true no matter what direction you are going in, whether male to female or vice versa. Sometimes someone might spot you for one thing, such as a deep voice, but still decide you are bio female for other reasons – presence of breasts, wearing a skirt or dress, well applied makeup, etc.

Stay neat and clean. Bathe, groom yourself in a way that is appropriate.

Choose good role models. If you’re a man, don’t try to look and act like a low class thug, if you’re a women, don’t try to act like a cheap hooker. Transmen: Don’t be Al Bundy. Transwomen: Don’t be Peg Bundy. Instead, why not emulate people with real style and class?

Dress appropriately. Wear clothes that are classically masculine if you are a transman, or classically feminine if you are a transwoman. Don’t bother with loud designs or ambiguous clothing. No skinny jeans or stretch pants for a transman, no blue jeans or sloppy sweat shirts for a transwoman. The idea is to give people a good impression, with clear indications of what gender you are. Avoid loud, clashing fabrics or extreme styles. Go for a sylish but somewhat conservative look. Avoid extremes. Strive to be a lady or a gentleman.

Speaking of style and class, try always to be courteous and respectful to others. Not only will you be treated better, but even if you are spotted as trans, you will be a good ambassador for the rest of your community. Also, being polite doesn’t mean being a pushover. It means being assertive without being aggressive, and respectful of others.

Learn the skills appropriate for your gender, even if it’s a bit stereotypical. People sometimes rely on stereotypes to guide them though ambiguity. While a transwoman can retain any skill she had before transition, she should at least know how to talk about subjects regarding cooking and homemaking for example. A transman would do well to understand something about fixing things, building things, how a car works, and enough about sports so as not to appear a fool. In either case, research the things that everyone in your gender seems to know, and know them too. Besides, it can be a great deal of fun!

Do things the way others do, especially in the bathroom. If you’re a transman, don’t leave tampons around. If you still need them, be discreet. If you’re a transwoman, don’t face the toilet, but sit down to pee. If you have a hard time doing that, spend some quality time at home with a case of beer or other diuretic beverage and train yourself.

Never be a caricature. Stay balanced. When possible, take your cues from bio men and women, not other trans folk.

Alter your voice to match your gender, but don’t go overboard. Transmen, just deepen your voice a bit and use masculine word choices. Transwomen, don’t go falsetto. Instead, soften your voice, raise the pitch a bit, not the volume, and strive for smoothness. Always pay attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it. It does get easier with practice.

To all transwomen: I can’t emphasize this enough. You aren’t transitioning to become a transwoman or a drag queen – you’re transitioning to become a woman, in body as well as mind. Since you have the chance to remake yourself, why not be a lady, not a diva?

via Daily Prompt: Controversy

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/controversy/