The Difference between Verse and Prose
What is Creative Writing?
Have you ever picked up a book that you just couldn’t put down? Ever read a blurb on the back cover and immediately bought the book? Has anyone ever said to you, “you have to read this book, it will change your life”? Haven’t we all? Creative writing is a tool we use to shape the written language[i] into something that can reach deep down inside someone’s soul. Something that can bring a tear to the eye of anyone and that can make you re-evaluate the way you live your life. It is writing that is considered to be imaginative, original and that creates another world where anything can and will happen. Its main purpose is to entertain its audience, and then to share life experiences whether they are ones of joy or ones of sorrow. It is a way for us to communicate with each other without saying a single word, but showing each other an entire world.
What is Verse?
There are two main types of creative writing outside what is bad and what is good, the first is verse. Verse is considered to be a more romantic type of writing as it is done so with a metrical rhythm and often uses rhyme to conclude lines. This rhythm can often be interpreted as a melody on which the words float along, bringing their message to their recipient’s ear. Used more often in poetry verse is designed to elicit emotions in the reader or portray images in the mind, often abstract or metaphorical images. This ‘higher order’ use of prose[ii] is the reason that it was seen as one of the Academic arts in ancient Greece and was viewed as a necessary skill for all enlightened individuals. Verse was later seen as the language of romance, so much so that the romantic poets viewed the understanding and use of verse to be as necessary to feed the mind as bread to feed the body. This concept of verse as a high level medium is what has led to the belief that poetry is not easily accessible or understandable and that prose is a more readily available means of communication. Of course this is largely true when it comes to conveying factual messages such as news reports or academic essays, but people often forget that one of the most popular ways of conveying a message in any culture is steeped in the tradition of verse. This is the singing of songs. Popular culture is based almost entirely around the music that is attached to it and music is nothing but verse with sound overlaying it. This clearly means that verse remains just as important a way of conveying information as prose.
What is Prose?
Prose is the conveying of written information[iii]. It is largely associated with fictional writing such as the novel or short story, but is also used in letters, diaries and the written media. Prose is a series of sentences forming a paragraph and a series of paragraphs forming a complete message. This is the simplistic explanation but prose is actually the medium by which almost all stories are told, certainly prior to the advent of the moving picture. The way in which prose is formed makes it the most precise and clear form of communication for delivering an idea or message. Unlike verse it delivers a very approachable and clear way to ensure that the writer is reaching the reader. This would seem uncomplicated, however there are several theories surrounding the relationship between the writer and the reader in terms of understanding how prose is delivered. One theory states that prose is directed by the writer; in other words, the writer sends a message and the reader receives that message as the writer intends it to be received. This method of understanding the relationship is the one that is used in schools when students are studying authors. They are taught to interpret the message of the author and in this way understand the meaning of the work. This interpretation of prose gives the author total ownership and means that the reader just understands the prose. The other interpretation is that once the author writes the prose and it goes out into the world it becomes the property of the reader. While this does not allow for literary interpretation, what it does is allow the reader to relate to the writing on a totally personal level. This means that they do not have to be concerned about whether they are actually fully understanding the writer’s meaning as long as the meaning that they convey is clear to them and resonates with them on some level. This moves ownership of the writing away from the author.
And in the End.
This exploration of the differences between verse and prose has shown us that prose is used for a much wider range of medium and that it has a much more diverse range of purposes and uses. We have also seen that verse tends to be regarded as very highbrow even though it is used so widely in terms of popular music and song, which everyone relates to. It is also important to note that there are many similarities between verse and prose. Both are very open to interpretation, both are able to be taken as having a variety of meaning dependent on the reader and most importantly both are a medium for a writer to convey layers of meaning and messages, personal, ideological or political. It is the similarities between the two that are as interesting as the differences particularly as they are often compared as two completely different ways of writing, which they are clearly not. In conclusion we can see that the way in which verse and prose is constructed is very different, and that is purely a matter of construction, in reality any writing has a great deal more similarities than differences and it is these that make this medium so evocative.
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