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Prose: Definition, How It Works & Examples In Writing

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Prose is a general term for literary devices used by authors to describe a flow of writing and verbal communication.

For example, prose is standard when communicating ideas to a reader.

This article will explain what prose is, how it’s used, the different types of prose, and explore some of the most notable examples of prose in literature.

What Is Prose?

Prose is a style of writing that arranges words or phrases into grammatically-correct sentences and paragraphs.

Also Known As

Here are other terms that this literary device goes by:

  • Spoken language
  • Novelism
  • Antipoetic

Simple Definition: How To Explain Prose to a Child

You can explain prose to a child as a grammatically correct sentence that turns into a paragraph.

It’s the style in which most people write books.

Why Is Prose Used?

Prose has many applications.

You can find it in various types of content like novels, magazines, and poetry.

Authors typically use prose to express an idea or tell a story.

Types of Prose

There are different variations of this literary device.

You can learn how to write a blog post by understanding these nuances to help you use them in your writing, whether composing a novel or making blog content.

1. Fictional Prose

Fictional prose is the most known form and is created from a writer’s imagination.

It follows the standard elements of story writing, including plot, character development, dialogue, and setting.

You’ll typically encounter fictional prose in novels and short stories.

2. Nonfiction Prose

Unlike fictional prose, nonfictional prose is based on actual events and irrefutable facts.

In that context, nonfiction prose gives authors plenty of things to write about, from true crime and current affairs to recounting historical events.

You’ll find nonfictional prose in newspaper articles, textbooks, magazines, and biographies.

3. Heroic Prose

Heroic prose consists of legends, myths, fables, and parables.

These stories get passed down orally or through written form, preserving their meaning for generations.

4. Prose Poetry

Finally, prose poetry is a hybrid that follows both prose and the rhythmic style of poetry.

This prose style is typically written in paragraph form yet uses the figurative language found in poetry.

How Do You Identify Prose?

You can identify prose in written form relatively easily.

Prose is structured using blocks of text, written in a standard grammatical form of sentences and paragraphs.

These blocks of text follow the natural patterns of verbal speech that we use in everyday language.

How Do You Use Prose in a Sentence?

Writing in prose means bringing your narrative to life through words.

So whether you’re writing a novel, poem, or short story, you need to remember the key elements of prose: character, setting, mood, plot, and point of view.

You’re already using prose in a sentence by combining complete sentences into grammatically-correct paragraphs.

What Is the Most Popular Example of Prose?

Famous examples of prose have a natural flow of speech, which allows the reader to follow along with the storyline easily.

J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye seamlessly conveys the thoughts of the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, throughout the story.

In real life, the inner workings of someone’s mind isn’t perfect.

Everybody goes off on tangents, thinks of new ideas, or returns to old ideas.

Salinger captures this fractious reality by describing Holden Caulfield’s inconsistent and convoluted thoughts through his narration.

The first-person narration consists of Holden Caulfield speaking to and conversing directly with the reader.

Salinger’s first-person prose creates intimacy between the narrator and the reader.

By the novel’s end, readers feel they know the kind of person he is and how his thoughts defined his outlook on life.

Other Famous Examples of Prose

Fiction authors write prose in narrative form.

Depending on the point of view, you typically get a glimpse into the mind of the characters to understand them.

Here are some other famous examples of prose:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Dickens’ prose writing style relates to all readers.

He uses narrative and dialogue to allow the main character, Pip, to bear his soul to the readers.

A relatable fear that anyone could have while growing up is becoming the person you don’t want to be.

Using meaningful prose, Dickens skillfully navigates the difficulties of adulthood and the anxiety young people have as they grow older.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Known as The Great American Novel, Melville’s prose hooks the reader from the first line.

“Call me Ishmael” gives the reader a name to think about throughout the novel.

Melville uses plot and mood to describe the suspenseful story.

His prose infuses the idea of revenge into his characters.

Interestingly, Melville uses sentences that loop back to the original idea.

These create an emotional turmoil that entices the reader to uncover through the narrative.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray using complex yet humorous prose.

Wilde takes the reader through the mind of Dorian Gray with long sentences written with figurative language.

The iconic Irish writer balances these complex sentences with short and funny sentences.

Other Modern Examples of Prose

Here are a few more examples of Prose that you might recognize:

Examples of Prose for Kids

Some of the best examples of prose for kids to help them understand this literary device include:

  • “The Five Little Pigs”
  •  “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling
  • “Little Red Riding Hood”

Countless fairytales, fables, and other short stories can give a child an enriching glimpse into prose writing.

Examples of Prose in Literature

Nearly every novel in literature is written in prose.

It’s a standard because prose coincides with verbal communication and how people talk in everyday life.

  • “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
  • “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

These examples are a few of these authors’ most notable works written in prose; however, we’ll discuss famous authors and more pieces of literature that use prose.

Examples of Prose in Poetry

Prose in poetry follows a natural pattern of narration, so it’s easily recognizable compared to verses that follow a rhythmic structure.

  • “Spring Day” by American poet Amy Lowell
  • “Be Drunk” by French writer Charles Baudelaire
  • “The Talking Oak” by the British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson

Prose poems are not written in stanza form.

Instead, you read them normally, and they follow standard grammatical structures.

Nevertheless, this style of poetry maintains common poetic elements.

Notable Writers Who Used Prose

Writers use this literary device to get their point across to readers.

Here are some notable writers that use prose in their works:

1. Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s style of prose incorporated elements of journalism into fiction writing.

During the 1920s, many American authors rejected the typical European style of writing.

Hemingway preferred objective writing that integrates straightforward facts.

In doing so, he hid the symbolism of his stories underneath the layers of information and dialogue.

2. Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s prose style stemmed from her husband, Percy Shelley, a famous poet during the Age of Romanticism.

Shelley’s romanticism combined with a style of Gothic literature that she’s known for in her work.

Frankenstein blended that style to romanticize Victor Frankenstein’s monster.

She developed the monster and Victor Frankenstein to ask philosophical questions.  

3. Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe uses all the key elements involved with writing in prose.

His novel The Masque Of The Red Death featured all the essential elements of prose.

Using setting, mood, and characters, Poe paints a picture of the party and those in attendance in the story.

Poe’s natural skill for using poetic prose vividly describes the scene and their grizzly demise.

His prose ensures no reader is left with unanswered questions about what transpires.

What Is the Opposite of Prose?

Prose is the standard for writing, from novels and short stories to news articles and blog posts.

The opposite of prose would be poetry.

Poetry follows a rhythm, is written in various short stanzas, and usually includes rhymes at the end of each line.

Prose vs. Poetry

Writing in prose means there are no line breaks.

Prose has a grammatically-correct structure, written in paragraphs and sentences.

Poetry is known for having line breaks and stanzas to tell its story.

Another difference between prose and poetry is that the author organizes the lines to end with rhyming words and doesn’t focus on traditional grammar.

Other Related Literary Devices To Know

There are several literary devices related to prose.

They might be more prominent in specific types of writing, but many can be blended together into a cohesive work.

Knowing what each literary device means can be advantageous, as it could help you incorporate them into your writing:

  • Parallelism:Parallelism is a figure of speech that follows the same grammatical structure.
  • Metaphors: A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares a word or phrase to an unrelated object or action.
  • Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing is a literary device that hints at what will happen later in the story.
  • Rhyme: A rhyme is a literary device that consists of identical concluding syllables in different words.
  • Verbal Irony: Verbal irony is a figure of speech where the meaning of a word or phrase is different from the situation you’re writing about.

Writing Tools to Help You Out

These writing tools will help you in the long run while developing your writing styles and techniques.

1. Writing Helpers

Writing helpers make suggestions for improving clarity, checking grammar, and helping you avoid plagiarism.

This tool also aids with style and engagement so you can fix passive voice usage and hard-to-read sentences.  

2. AI Writing Software

While you may not want software to generate AI-written content to change the entirety of your writing, you can use such tools to work through new topic ideas, create outlines, and develop your SEO strategy.

AI writing software can expand on your idea while letting you rewrite it for clarity and style.

3. Grammar Checkers

Everyone should read over their drafts to check for grammar mistakes.

However, sometimes it’s better to get a second opinion.

After all, content creators want to ensure they’re putting their best work forward for people to see.

With that in mind, consider choosing a tool like Grammarly, one of the best grammar checkers around, to help you proofread your work before it’s released.

4. Content Creators

Content creators are always looking for the best writing tools to ensure their writing, whether it’s blog posts or news articles, sounds professional or knowledgeable.

From eye-catching visuals to centering your content to appeal to your intended audience, the right tools can be helpful when you need to develop content that matches your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about this literary device?

We have the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions to further help you understand the meaning of prose.

What is the prose style of writing?

The prose style of writing is a loose structure that writers follow.

Prose offers creative freedom in your writing while adhering to the structural integrity of your paragraphs.

It uses a standard grammatical structure, in contrast to the rhythmic structure of poetry.

What makes good prose?

Clarity makes good prose.

With writing, your words are the only way to give your readers an accurate description of the scene.

Writing good prose means avoiding convoluted sentences and contradictory words confusing your reader.

Instead, you want the words to flow from paragraph to paragraph.

Wrapping Up

No matter what you write, you can use prose to articulate your ideas, bring your imagination to life, make your writing more interesting, and connect with your readers.

Good prose allows a writer to be concise, helping you to convey thoughts using easy-to-follow grammatical structures centered on paragraphs and sentences.

With that in mind, make sure your writing isn’t challenging to understand, as the best prose is accessible to all.

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