Member Rara Avis
Hey there! (Let's see a show of hands for those not surprised to see me answering this!)
Ok, first this -
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "Prose" (as is applicable to your question) as - Ordinary speech or writing, without metrical structure.
So basically that leaves out all manners of "form" poetry. But what about free verse? Well, some (be quiet K.) might argue that free verse has meter. I agree that it may have meter, but by the very nature of the word "free" it's not required.
Does that help?
No, I didn't think it would.
So we've eliminated formed poetry... so let's take it one step farther and eliminate free verse as well. One of the most (usual) distinction of free verse is how it's broken up into relatively small lines. These small lines are formed into...
Prose has stanzas... well... kind of... Actually, prose is (hopefully) broken into Paragraphs! Longer lines, (again hopefully) properly punctuated, which while possibly poetic are more likely to be written in such a way as to match the way we would speak. Odds are you wouldn't hear something along these lines in a normal conversation...
Will said -
The rude sea grew civil at her song,
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid's music.
(Can you tell me what that's from??? No, Kamla, Jim and Kess are prohibited from answering!)
Instead, in prose, you might say something more along the lines of...
Chris said -
From the south blows an aching wind, its humid thrall mirroring my somber mood. The eastern sky sighs at the release of fevered smoldering, while in the west the last ray of brilliance in the world fades behind a stark landscape of shame and degradation. And to the north, nothing save the emerging pale yellow of light which spreads like a cancer over the city, preparing it for another evening of pomp and pride.
And then a paragraph break (preferably by hitting "enter" or "return" twice!) followed by another paragraph.
That is prose. Now needless to say, you're not that limited. Prose can cover anything froma written "letter" to a "story" (fiction or non-fiction), to an essay, to a plain old' rant. Prose can be about the weather, your mood, aliens, dinosaurs, the old west, a different country, your first love... well, like poetry, prose can be about anything! (Though I ask you keep all the "adult" material where it belongs!!! ) The only difference:
Better? Hope I've been helpful! If you have anymore questions, please don't hesitate to ask... and keep looking in here too. I'm quite sure several people will show up shortly to either argue with me or add to what I've said! It's always interesting and often informative to hear other's opinions!
(Ok, now another show of hands for those not surprised that I wandered all over the place with this "simple" explanation... )