Glossary Home Genre


Prose is a written and spoken language form that does not make use of a metrical pattern or rhyme scheme.

There is an ordinary grammatical structure in the lines and usually full sentences. The word “prose” first appeared in English in the fourteenth century. It comes from the French word “prose” meaning straightforward or direct speech. 

The majority of that which we read and write is done so in prose. It is made of paragraphs and the correct use of punctuation and grammar. The sentences do not, as they do in poetry, normally run on for multiple lines or extend past that which makes sense. Aesthetic appeal is much less important than it is in poetry. 

Clear language is valued over complex figurative language. Often, it is as easily read as everyday speech is understood. It is the language of people, that which we most readily understand. It can be found in kinds of written communication, such as broadcasting, newspapers, journals, textbooks, magazines, and speeches. Without prose, we would not have poetry. 


Purpose of Prose 

Prose is a comfortable structure in which writers can convey stories, messages, and various kinds of information. It allows writers to use complex details, create settings, characters that change over time and convey facts to their readers. Writers look to this form of writing in order to communicate easily with readers. 


Types and Examples of Prose 

Prose Poetry

Prose Poetry is a social kind of prose that exhibits some of the qualities of poetry. The imagery and sensory experience of the reader is more important than it would be otherwise but the lines are structured as they would be in a novel. There are still paragraphs and full sentences. Examples include Amy Lowell’s Bath and Harryette Mullens Kills bugs dead. This kind of writing is much less common than fiction or nonfiction. It is also often up for interpretation. Some poems fall in between being a strict poem and prose poetry, especially if the writer used longer lines and more paragraph-like stanzas


Fictional Prose

Fiction includes novels and books read and written for pleasure. It is a literary work that includes imagined elements These elements might be based in fact, such as in the genre of historical fiction, or they might be completely fantastical, such as in fantasy novels. 

For examples of fiction, a reader simply has to look to their own bookshelf. Some of the best stories ever written fall into the category. These novels include all periods of written literature from the classic to the victorian, Elizabethan, modern and contemporary. Also included in this category, and often her look, are the novels written by authors from non-English speaking countries.

Some well-known authors who have worked in this category include Charles Dickens, George Orwell, and Emily Brontë. Modern and contemporary writers that readers might be family with are Haruki Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Stephen King. 


Heroic Prose

Heroic Prose includes legends and tales. These are imagined stories that were once told only orally. They were eventually written down and have since been shared with a wider audience. This includes legends that originated from all over the world. A reader might look to the Icelandic Sagas, the Poetic Edda, and Le Morte d’Arthur.


Nonfictional Prose

Nonfiction includes biographies and reports. It is based primarily in reality. There are many fewer imagined elements, if any. It is usually written to inform before entertain. 

This style uses even fewer literary techniques than the others on this list. The writers who chose to write nonfiction work usually do so in order to tell a real and accurate story. Contemporary examples of nonfiction writers include Erik Larson, Naomi Klein, Stephen Hawking, and Susan Sontag. 

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