Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mickey Spillane, Pulp Fiction And Purple Prose

As with my last post, my love and desire for pulp fiction grows. And I am talking about the real stuff. The hard stuff. Lately, I find myself going back and reading stories from the Golden Age. The era of ten dollar words and purple prose. As a result, I want to write that kind of pulp.

Because of this, I find my prose style evolving yet once more. I used to write in a spare, bare bones style. Very similar to Hemingway. But now I have moved to a more Mickey Spillane style but I mix in a little purple prose and cinematic verse. With this, I think I have found the sweet spot.

While I am on the subject of Spillane, I have to remember that while I loved his writing, he had a lot of bad writing habits. The most glaring one was the use of passive voice. At my writer's group I get dinged for using passive voice. In Spillane's case, I think it works. It works because his style of writing was true tough guy prose. And as we know, that even though tough guys are strong, they carry around a little extra flab-- never have I known a tough guy to be a slim good body. They are rough and tumble and all action. But, ironically will express themselves in passive language. So, it is only appropriate that Spillane did the same in his writing.

Well back to me. Since I haven't quite achieved the fame of Mick, I have to employ active voice and a little more muscular writing. But, I am not adverse to writing a sentence  like " The moon is full and cast a sick light through the window". Other than writing it this way, "The full moon cast a sick light through the glass pane." Sometimes passive voice reveals the human side of a writer and shows vulnerability.

I used to write poetry and purposely used passive voice in my work. I wanted to point out that the action was happening outside of the poem and in lots of instances, we spend alot of time watching life go by as opposed to participating in it.

Now purple prose, as we all know, is another enemy of fine writing. But, I am starting to seek it out. And that's why I love pulp so much. There is something about having the ability to dramatize even the smallest detail with  overly flowery language. But, as with passive voice, I intend to use purple narrative judiciously. Throw a little in here or there-- especially in the obligatory water color moments.

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