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Types of fiction: Prose and poetry

Types of fiction: Prose and poetry

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Summary

Types of fiction: Prose and poetry

​​In a nutshell

Fiction is any writing which is made up or written using imagination. The main types of fiction texts are prose, poetry and drama. In this summary, you will learn the difference between prose and poetry and how to recognise various fiction texts written using prose.



Prose vs. poetry

Prose and poetry are both forms of writing. Prose is everyday writing while poetry is often more carefully and artistically written.


Prose

Prose is the most common form of written and spoken language, it's the type of writing used in both fiction and non-fiction. Prose follows regular grammatical structures and it's the sort of language you hear in everyday speech. 


Examples

novels

newspapers

short stories

essays

instructions


Here is an example of prose written in a novel.


Example

Whistling, he let the escalator waft him into the still night air. He walked toward the corner, thinking little at all about nothing in particular. Before he reached the corner, however, he slowed as if a wind had sprung up from nowhere, as if someone had called his name.


(From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)


Poetry

Poetry, or verse, is the kind of language you read and hear in poems. Poetry is carefully written, often with short lines which rhyme and have rhythm. Below are different types of poetry like sonnets, haikus and free verse. 


Examples

​​poems

theatrical dialogue e.g. Shakespeare

song lyrics


Here is an example of poetry.


Example

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


(From 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost)


Types of fiction texts

A wide range of different texts are written using prose, including both fiction and non-fiction. Narrative fiction is imaginative writing which tells a story. Below are some of the most common types of narrative fiction written using prose. 


Novels

A novel is a work of narrative fiction written using prose which is the length of a book and is usually split into chapters. Novels generally have a cast of characters and multiple plot lines which support and contrast each other, but by the end of a novel everything is typically neatly resolved.


Examples 

​​The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Noughts & Crosses

by Malorie Blackman

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak


Novellas

A novella is a piece of narrative prose which is not as long as a novel but is longer than a short story. Novellas usually only follow one plot line and they are not always split into chapters.


Examples

​​The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

Animal Farm

by George Orwell


Short stories

A short story is only a few thousand words of narrative prose. In a short story, there typically aren't many characters. Some short stories focus more on conveying a tone or an atmosphere, rather than a detailed plot, and they often leave some questions unanswered or up to the reader's interpretation. 


Examples

The Yellow Wallpaper
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber


Flash fiction

Flash fiction is a piece of narrative prose which is very short. It can be as short as just a few words, or as long as a few hundred. Flash fiction is often confusing or cryptic, one of its characteristics is how it is able to hint at a bigger story.


Examples

​​Widow's First Year

by Joyce Carol Oates

Give It Up!

by Franz Kafka

War of the Clowns

by Mia Couto


Tip: All of these fiction texts can be further divided by their genres. Genres describe what type of a story is being told.

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a novella?

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