Prose is defined as: the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing. It is derived from the Old French prose, which in turn originates in the Latin expression prosa oratio (literally, straightforward or direct speech).
For writers and nerds in general it is more accurately the words we choose to use to tell our story. Prose has several subsections, most of which are more academic than practical but the two that will define your audience as INVISIBLE prose and PURPLE prose. The first is writing in a way that the story is clear, concise and easily digested. With Invisible prose the audience doesn’t notice your word choice, your diction blends seamlessly into the magic of the tale you’re weaving and no one even understands how brilliant you are or how much work went into crafting something so impressively unimpressive. Professionals seek to write in this manner, to let the story speaks for itself without glorifying themselves by showing off their huge vocabulary and clever turn of phrase capabilities.
Purple prose is writing so dynamic, so colorful, so romantic that the reader is pulled out of the story and left no choice but to process the bombastic display of wordplay you have laid at their feet. Amateur writers tend to write like this. It highlights the author at the cost of the story. No one reading this will miss the effort and artistry required to build this palace disguised as a paragraph you have divined into existence.
I combine these two, invisible for 80% of the book then every now and then I lean in, I paint a picture so vivid, so visceral that continuing on instead of rereading becomes challenging. This is an example of the same sentence (sort of) written in the above mentioned styles.
I knew then that I loved her. I knew it like I knew my name, or that the sun would rise tomorrow. She had enslaved me with nothing more than a smile.
I knew then, without doubt or deviation; I was head over heels, gone with the wind in love with her. I knew the way I knew my own name, or that the sun would rise tomorrow, fluid and golden to spill heaven’s light across both mine and the face of the world. I was undone, humbled, broken before her; she had enslaved me with a smile and nothing more.
The thing about prose is, it isn’t what it says or about what it doesn’t say, about the story – its importance is what it says about you! The words you choose, every adjective, every transport from a dead language, it all tells the reader a tiny little bit about your personality. The kind of person who says ‘whom’ instead of ‘who’ is much like the person who goes by ‘Stephen’ and refuses to be called ‘Steve.’ Beyond giving away hundreds of fractions of your soul to strangers your prose/diction/word choice – also defines your voice.
‘Voice in literature is the individual style in which a certain author writes his or her works. Voice includes many different literary devices and stylistic techniques, including syntax, semantics, diction, dialogue, character development, tone, pacing, and even punctuation.’
There is nothing more important for a professional-eat-or-don’t-eat-based-on-the-success-of-my-writing than voice. It is how your fans know its you without seeing your name on the cover. Its how they know what to expect, whether to avoid it or rush toward it which makes the difference between all 5 star reviews and a series of 1 star reviews from people you were never going to reach. When you catch a few seconds of your favorite show, without seeing any of the cast or hearing the theme you can *tell* what it is. Is it the film, the cameras, the set dressing; I don’t know but i do know that once voice is established like Pepsi versus Coke, a large part of the heavy lifting the fans will do for you.
And finally! My style is rebellious dissidence. I openly challenge conventional wisdom which does cost me an untold number of fans but this is my voice. ‘Ill’ and ‘Un’ both mean NOT when used as a prefix but somehow Illbelievable and Unlogical is wrong (see what I did there?) and no one has given me an acceptable answer for why. So I challenge the rules, the way we think, see the world, and in the loss of so many profits, maybe, just MAYBE I’ll open some kid’s eyes to the untouched possibilities when rules unrelated to safety are thrown to the howling, whispering, transitory winds like so much dust or dandelion fluff.