Sunday, November 4, 2012

Poetry and Prose - The Confusion

This page addressed the confusion between poetry and prose, storytelling and the writing of fiction in general.
The Simple Facts
Writing Fiction is about telling stories.
Telling stories is the core and primary form of communication either written or oral.
The form of a story contains not only the subject and predicate (what about the subject) but the intention or purpose for making the communication in the first place.
The purpose, although implied in the communication is not necessarily visible in the words which is why linguists and grammarians missed this most important element and having failed to identify it, therefore give it no importance.
Poems are a style of storytelling with roots reaching back probably to the very beginnings of time although the word does not appear until the 13-1400's.
The conventions of rhyme and meter associated with "poetry" (or more appropriately the poetic style of storytelling) were created and developed by bards, minstrels, recounters, shamans and priests for a very simple reason; it was easier to remember the story that way. And storytellers of all descriptions had to rely on memory for a long time before written language evolved. And even after "writing" was invented it was a very long time before writing and reading reached down to the lower classes which comprised the bulk of the storytellers.
Long before man learned how to write, telling stories was a completely oral tradition.
And then just to add a little more interest to the telling, music was added as an accompaniment.
Hence the invention of the song.
Which is easy to understand if we consider a song as a poem set to music.
So, the core is communication, which consists of expressing a complete thought about something.
That thought consists of a subject and what about that subject or what grammarians call the "predicate". This we were taught comprises a complete sentence. However there is one other very important element that our English teachers left out of our lessons; simply because the Linguists left it out of their considerations regarding language.
The missing element is the reason for the communication in the first place.
This is the single idea or thought that comes before the words are selected to form the sentences.
Behind those words and sentences is a purpose that the speaker had for wanting to communicate to his audience in the first place.
His purpose for communicating and what he is communicating are two separate however related things. Simply put; first there is an intention and then the words.
The intention is the underlying purpose for the communication and what the linguists and our English teachers failed to mention. While concentrating on just the words they missed what is arguably the most important part of the whole deal.
The single word that best expresses this purpose is the word "Premise".
The Premise is the Purpose for the communication
The roots of the word premise (the derivation) go back to ancient Latin but the concept can best be described as simply, "What's the Point?" of the communication. What is the desired effect of the communication? What does the speaker wish the audience to do with or about the communication? What is the desired effect?
While one could assume that the purpose is simply to convey an idea - that falls short of the mark. Because the speaker is communicating with the intent of causing something. His purpose is to cause the audience (the receiver of the communication) to do something with and therefore because of the communication.
Communication is not just about passing information from speaker to listener. The purpose of the communication is to get the listener to DO SOMETHING with the information or idea.
While grammar tells us that the expression of a complete thought (called a "sentence") consists simply of "subject" and "predicate" there is a third element that has not been addressed - intention.

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