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Blog by Ron – Prose vs. Character

Prose vs. Character is a battle every author deals with even if unaware. But before continuing, let me define my terms.

Prose is a literary description of people, places, and events.

Character in this blog means describing the people, places, and events through his or her eyes, and expressing them through their voices or thoughts.

When I started writing books, I primarily used Prose. Let me brag for a moment. I wrote some pretty awesome description! But I soon learned that awesome does not necessarily equate to best.

Best is using the character!

Let’s explore that.

  1. Prose is from the author’s viewpoint. It is divorced from the characters. No matter how eloquent, there isn’t the emotional attachment a character can bring. There is a place for prose in writing, but it should be minimized.
  2. When a someone is describing something he or she infuses the description with his or her personality and biases.
  3. Emotional descriptions are impactful. Prose cannot truly compete.
  4. Storyline can be affected by the description. Thus, keeping the author out of it can be helpful!

Requires Balance

A good balance would be to try to only use prose to connect between scenes, places, and people. If you find yourself not sure, then let character be your first choice. If it doesn’t work, then use prose.

Prose vs. Character is Important

You might wonder if balance is really important.  Consider this, humans are multifaceted’. The more levels you can connect with them the more they will receive and connect with you.

To break that down, take a look at what makes up a person:

His or her:

Biases – political, religious, even educational.

Education – no schooling, high school, college.

physical traits – height, weight, hair, eyes, etc.

relationship to Christ – saved – unsaved.

Spirituality – walk with God, testimony, bible knowledge.

Training – learned skills, trade.

and more…

What if the reader is touched on two, three, four, or more levels? Don’t you think that the fictional person gets more real to the reader? The closer they get to one another, the more the reader identifies with the character. The more the reader identifies with that person, the more the reader is drawn into the story, and enjoys it. That breeds success.


R. Frederick Riddle is an author, teacher, publisher, and the owner of T&R Independent Books. The website is at Home – T&R Independent Bookstore (

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