Prose vs. Verse & Novel Vs. Short Story

CaptainDan

Member
These phrases are very simple to understand, but don't mistake their simplicity for being unimportant. If you would like to immerse yourself within literature, whether it be reading or writing, it's critical to gain and understanding of what exactly it is you're reading or writing. In this post, I'll describe what both prose and verse are as well as what a novels and short stories are. Once you understand these terms, you'll be on your way to chatting them up with your friends.

Prose - Prose is what you're reading right now. It's the normal and everyday usage of the language you speak regularly. I'm writing in it and you speak it to those you have contact with. Within prose, there's usually very little metrical structure. There may be some at times, but there generally won't be.

Verse - When you think about verse, think about poems, lyrics, and rhymes. Pieces of work with a metrical structure. These, along with prose, can be either written or spoken. While stories of way back when were commonly written in verse, they're rarely written that way today. As a matter of fact, the average child or adult would most likely have no idea how to comprehend a story written in verse in modern times. These days, a good majority of short stories and novels are written in prose.

Short Story - A short story is a story that's got a fully developed theme, but one that's much shorter in length than a novel. It's been said (by Edgar Allan Poe) that a short story should be read in one sitting and can last anywhere between one half hour and two hours. In contemporary fiction, short stories generally range anywhere between 1,000 and 20,000 words. Examples of short stories include A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. When reading a short story, you'll notice that it doesn't include nearly as many characters as a novel does. That would be too confusing for the reader. The characters wouldn't have a chance to be fully developed. Also, short stories only consist of a very limited number of environments and very few sequences of events. In longer short stories (ones bordering on the line of being a novella like Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin), you may find multiple environments, but for more traditional short stories, you'll find that things are straightforward. The authors of short stories can't unnecessarily complicate things. They need to concentrate the plot to keep the storyline precise.

Novel - When short stories that follow a primary protagonist are combined into chapters, we call that a novel. Novels can be much longer than short stories and really have no limit to their length. Novels are longer than novellas (long short stories or short novels) and can be quite complex with the number of characters, environments, and events they contain. If you consider a short story as one or two dimensional, a novel will be three dimensional. They can be complicated, dynamic, can evolve, have a wide scope and breadth, and generally be limitless. When you go to the bookstore and see a thick book of fiction, it's generally a novel. Unless, of course, it's a collection of short stories.

Please don't mistake a novel for being any better than a short story or vice-versa. Some of the best pieces of leterature I've read have been both novels and short stories. Examples of my favorite shorts stories include A&P by John Updike, A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, and Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessan Boyle. And some of my favorite novels are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Short stories and novels are merely various forms of narrative that highlight their own advantages. Novels can be huge and all-encompassing, while short stories can be powerful and impactful. Both are excellent forms of prose.
 
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