Elements of Prose; Style, Forms & Construction


The origins of the word can be traced to the Latin phrase prosa oratio or “straight and unembellished speech“). Some people also refer to the earlier phrase pro versusm or “turned forward” when discussing the etymology of the word.

The prose is a lot more normal as it uses a language that is ordinarily used while writing or speaking. Prose differs from poetry in its unit of construction. While poetry is built in terms of verses and stanzas, Prose is written in terms of sentences and paragraphs.

It developed later than poetry and its style is usually traceable to a particular author or genre. It lacks a meter or rhythmical pattern that forms the underpinning of most forms of poetry.

Magazine articles, novels, short stories, encyclopedias, letters, editorials, articles, and journals are all examples of prose. The various characteristics of Prose are:

Style of Prose

The content of the Prose can be fictional, nonfictional and heroic. Fictional Prose employs creative design and imaginative writing. The examples can be parables, drama, novels and short stories. When writing is fact-based it is called non-fictional prose.

The examples can be biographies and formal essays. Heroic Prose is based on lore or popular tales. It employs aggrandizement of age-old expressions which are often transmitted through oral traditions. They include fables, lore, and legends.

Often a single piece of writing may employ various different styles and tastes of content in order to enhance the experience of meaning-making by the audience.

The diverse abilities of fiction, non-fiction, and lore can create a holistic and wholesome process of indulging in a piece of prose writing.

Forms of Prose

There are broadly four forms of prose. They are narrative, descriptive, expository and persuasive. The narrative form builds a storyline with characters. The story can be fiction or non-fiction.

It usually follows a set chronology (not always) and the sequence of exposition, building tension and action, climax, denouement. The expository form provides unembellished and basic information like in essays and speeches.

It tries to explain a phenomenon, topics, and themes. They lack an argumentative pitch or storytelling ability. The descriptive form provides details about something like scientific or medical reports.

They also lack any story or argument. It uses the five senses and builds in-depth information on the chosen topic. It is often used with narrative, persuasive and descriptive forms.

Persuasive form tries to entice the reader by making an argument in favor of a point. It provides ample evidence for the merits or disadvantages of the determined point and tries to convince the audience of the same. It lacks a storyline as well.

Prose Construction

The construction of Prose is often dependent on some elements like characters, theme, setting, plot, perspective, and mood. The character is an individual who plays a part in any story.

Characterization is the entire process of developing a character. Characters can be people or animals. The story depends on the interaction and relationships between various characters. Examples of characters are protagonist, antagonist, helper, anti-hero, villain, etc.

The theme is the controlling idea or message of a story. It is often shown as a result of the actions of characters and their changing relationships. A story can also have certain sub-themes that aid the development of the controlling idea.

The setting is the background of the story. It includes information about the place and the time of the story, the context (social, historical, culture or geographical). The sequence of events in a story is its plot.

It depicts the flow of ideas and actions in a story. It works on the points of conflict, human rivalries, and difficulties. It can be plausible and linear or completely bizarre with unexpected twists and turns.

Perspective or point of view is the angle of looking at the subject and the entire story. It can be in first-person (the narrator is part of the story) or in third-person (the narrator is not a part of the story).

The mood represents the overall feeling the author intends to create for the audience. It is the creation of an atmosphere of emotions by adding imagery, situations, things, ideas or events and other details (sensory and extra-sensory) to the setting. It can be sad, triumphant, ecstatic, hopeful, tragic etc.