This book focuses on the traditions and practices which distinguish literary from literal writing. One important difference is suggested by Mr. Laurence Perrine in his excellent book "Sound and Sense." He talks of the four dimensions of language: intellectual, sensuous, emotional and imaginative. Literal writing, according to Perrine, focuses on the intellectual dimension; literary writing emphasizes all four dimensions. Because all effective communication appeals to our senses, our emotions and our imagination as well as to our intellects, one must interpret Mr. Perrine's assertion as a matter of degree rather than kind. Literary writers focus more intensely on the sensory, the emotional and the imaginative uses of language than writers of literal material do. Edgar Allan Poe, for example, was deeply interested in the musical qualities of human speech. In fact, in "The Raven" he emphasized rhythms and melody lines and sound motifs while neglecting the intellectual dimension.
Another major difference between literal and literary writing is that, while writers of literal material focus on reality, poets and short story writers and novelists and playwrights often entertain their audiences with flights of fancy. As Samuel Coleridge put it, they ask readers and observers to "suspend their wils to disbelieve" story lines that suspendss the laws of nature and occur in settings that have never existed. The rules and procedures which shape and limit how they tell their tales have been developed over the centuries. They are not laws of nature but rather conventions of writing - time tested approaches upon which creative writers and their audiences have agreed to enter into their fantasy worlds and not to reject them because they lack realism.