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On Lowercase Prose

May 19, 2020



    Yeah, it's pretty normal for poetry to be lowercase. But what about prose? Does it help or hurt a piece of prose to omit capital letters? I've already touched on this topic in How To Use Syntax, but I thought I'd go into it in a little more depth, and express my opinion on it more.
    I have a confession to make. When I browse pieces, some pieces catch my eye more than others, and of those that catch my eye, I admit that the shorter pieces and poems typically keep my attention for longer, since they are easier to read. But for the pieces of prose, whether they use or omit capital letters affects how likely I'll be to read them. I'm more likely to read a piece of prose with capital letters than a piece of prose that omits them. Prose with capital letters, to my eye, is less overwhelming than completely lowercase prose (this is actually part of the reason why I offer free peer reviews; I'm forced to read pieces in styles that I don't read as often).
    So do I think that prose should always use capital letters? Absolutely not! I admit that I don't think I've ever written a piece in the style of lowercase prose, but that's just me.
    Omitting capital letters in prose changes the style of the piece, and the way it is read. Sometimes, this change is not for the better, but sometimes, this change is exactly what the piece needs. It makes it more jumbled up, rather than cut into packages. It still is prose, but it has more of the feel of a stream. As one might imagine, this can be useful in a stream of consciousness piece, though not necessary.
    Another reason one might omit capital letters in a piece is just because it's easier to write. I actually don't find it easier to write without capitals, but I'm sure some people do. If it's easier to get the ideas out, then do it. The style of lowercase prose might not end up fitting well with the content of the piece, but capitals can always be added later. If you use lowercase prose for this reason, remember to add capitals later, unless it turns out that the omitting capital letters works well with the piece.
    When deciding to whether to omit capital letters in your piece of prose, you should have a reason to do it, and if not, at least compare the version of your piece with capital letters to the version without capital letters. Remember that omitting capital letters might make your piece harder to read, at least for some people. You might not attract as many readers, though it probably depends on the people who happen to notice your piece while browsing.
    So which is better, prose with capital letters, or lowercase prose? It's hard to say, for they have different purposes. Lowercase prose can be useful sometimes, but other times not. Imagine if I had written this piece without capital letters. Prose with capitals is often the way to go, and personally, I find myself wishing a piece of prose included capital letters a lot more than wishing a piece of prose omitted capitals.
    I guess, the moral of this piece is to choose your style of prose carefully. When in doubt, use capital letters, but omitting capital letters can sometimes be an ingenious decision.


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  • May 19, 2020 - 9:43am (Now Viewing)

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