Each of the four strives to achieve the same purpose, but why do two work and two do not? It's not simply to tell the reader about something. Some writers think that elaborate language lifts ordinary vision into literature. The writer is not imagining the actual night, but simply dressing up a clich. Say your protagonist is loading a nine-pound cannon with grapeshot on a frigate. You have to see through his eyes, feel what he would feel, know what he would know.
This is fine for the police, but not for the fiction writer. Writers are supposed to have this vivid imagination, the ability to create a world for the reader. 'He had a raw patch under his chin that his stock rubbed open every morning, a black bruise where his haversack rode his shoulder, peeling toes inside his sodden boots, and an arm growed two inches longer 'cause his gun was so damned heavy' takes you into his private misery.
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Visit Stack Exchange is most famous for its opening phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night".
Environment and character create a sense of being there with that man, helping the reader to understand his determination and encouraging an interest in who 'she' is and if he will find her.
A good descriptive passage has three elements: (a) specific, well-observed detail (b) revelation of the character's inner life and (c) motivation: what drives that character.Was the novel full of purplitude elsewhere, or was it (for its time) a reasonably ordinary piece of writing?It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.Today, this phrase is seen as a textbook example of purple prose - writing which is overly extravagant and flowery, drawing the reader's attention more to the words than the story.In the context of the original novel, was this really purple prose?The night is lit by a sudden bolt of lightning followed by a quick heart wrenching roar of thunder.The lightning lights up the sky as if it's suddenly become day and then is quickly swallowed and consumed till all that's left is complete darkness.That is overworked and unnecessarily complex and melodramatic, the very epitome of "purple prose".Over time, memory of the full opening sentence has been lost and all we recall is the opening few words which have come, unfairly, to be held up as the archetypal example of "purple prose".Every detail in a story has to have a reason, and that reason is to drive the narrative forward. In the same way, the detail describing the man lost in the forest has to tell us more than it was night, it was stormy, and he was lost. This intimacy is the other half of a good descriptive passage.A descriptive passage gives details about someone or something in order to give the reader a better understanding about the characters and their world. You must not only see, feel, hear, smell the physical environment, you must also share the character's feelings. The man staggers, is abused by the elements, seeks for light. This passage has specific detail and implies something about the man.