You also spent some time studying, usually in English class, another kind of highly structured language often called imaginative or creative. Poetry, fiction, drama, essay, and song are the genres usually associated with imaginative language. This kind of language tries to do something different from strictly communicative language—something to do with art, beauty, play, emotion, and personal expression—something difficult to define or measure, but often easy to recognize. We sometimes know something is a poem or a play simply by the way it looks on a page, while with a story or essay, we may not.
For example, I could write some language here that you'll read as poetry, largely because of how I make it look:
Writing to imagine Is different from Imagining to write Isn't it?
But if I simply wrote the sentence, "Writing to imagine is different from imagining to write, isn't it?" you would pay it less attention. Ultimately, it is difficult to describe exactly what makes some writing quite imaginative (a poem by e.e. cummings) and some less so (my lines above).
Poems, novels, and plays are often governed by alternative conventions of language use. Some poets use rhyme (Robert Frost) and some don't (also Robert Frost); some fiction writers use conventional sentences and paragraphs (Ernest Hemingway), while others run single sentences through several pages (William Faulkner); most authors capitalize and punctuate conventionally, but some don't (e.e. cummings). One glance at this untitled poem by cummings demonstrates an imaginative writer's freedom to violate certain language conventions:
Buffalo Bill's defunct who used to ride a watersmooth-silver stallion and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
Jesus he was a handsome man and what i want to know is how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death
In other words, imaginative uses of language often gain effect not only from the ideas about which the authors are writing, but also from the form and style in which those ideas are expressed. In fact, some of the most important elements of imaginative writing may be formal and stylistic; if the author wanted simply to convey an idea clearly and logically, he or she would probably resort to more conventional prose.
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