How to Write a Sonnet: Create Your Beautiful Poem with These Tips

How to Write a Sonnet: Create Your Beautiful Poem with These Tips
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SHARE - Derived from the Italian word "sonetto" that means “a little sound or song," sonnet is a popular classical form originated from the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in Palermo, Sicily. In poetry, a sonnet has 14 lines and is written in iambic pentameter. Each line has 10 syllables. It has a specific rhyme scheme and a volta (a specific turn).

Sonnets can be categorized into six major types: Petrarchan (Italian) Sonnet, Shakespearean Sonnet, Spenserian Sonnet, Miltonic Sonnet, Terza Rima Sonnet, and Curtal Sonnet. Keep reading this article to learn how to write a sonnet.

How to Write a Shakespearean Sonnet

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If you’re a beginner, it’ll be best to learn how to write a sonnet from the Shakespearean sonnet. This is because it has the most regular and straightforward rhyme scheme and structure. 

The rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet always follows the pattern of “ABABCDCDEFEFGG”. These letters represent the sound that appears at the end of each line. From these letters, we know that the last words of the first and third lines must rhyme (A), the second and fourth (B), and so on.

Once you’ve understood the rhyme scheme, then start writing your lines in iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter is a type of poetic meter, meaning that it's a way of measuring out the rhythm of a line. “Iambic” means that each foot is an “iamb.” Iambs are comprised of an unstressed, followed by a stressed syllable, resulting in a “ta-TUM” rhythm. The word “hel-LO” is an example of an iambic foot.

So a line of iambic pentameter is a line of five (penta) iambic feet, resulting in a 10-syllable rhythm of ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM. The perfect example for this is “Shall I / comPARE/ thee TO / a SUM / mer's DAY?” (from Shakespeare's “Sonnet 18”). 

You can also vary your meter time to time by varying the stress pattern slightly at key moments to make it more aurally interesting for the reader. Then, you have to follow three heroic quatrains and a heroic couplet. 

A heroic quatrain is a group of four lines of iambic pentameter in an ABAB rhyme scheme; a heroic couplet is a group of two lines of iambic pentameter in an AA rhyme scheme.

It’s important to develop your stanzas thoughtfully. Once you’re done with the basics, choose the subject matter and start to write your sonnet.

How to Write a Petrarchan Sonnet

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Now it’s time to learn how to write a sonnet other than the Shakespearean category. Let’s pick Petrarchan sonnet. Use the Petrarchan sonnet's rhyme scheme which consists of five patterns:






We use the same iambic pentameter as the Shakespearean, so you don’t need to worry much. What you need to focus on next is developing the content as the Petrarchan stanzaic structure demands. It uses an eight-line octave and a six-line sestet to develop the poem's subject. Once you’re set, start to write your sonnet.

Bear in mind, though, that this sonnet is quite a bit more difficult than the English. This is because the Italian language has a lot more rhyming words than does English. You need to get used to it for a while; but, it won’t be a problem if you write your sonnet in Italian.

How to Write a Sonnet about Love

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If you aim to write a sonnet where love becomes the subject matter, then learning how to write a sonnet in Shakespearean style is all that you need. Shakespearean sonnets are traditionally grounded as love poems. Refer to the tutorial above to know how.

How to Write a Sonnet Fast

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Learning how to write a sonnet may seem intimidating, but you can always learn. If you want to start from scratch and thus wanting to write one in a fairly short time, then creating a fun sonnet for kids-grade will do. Here’s one example of a simple Shakespearean sonnet for kids:


by Tasha Guenther

My cat stares blankly at the wall

Trying to hunt the light.

She flicks her tail and starts to crawl,

Eyes focused, fur upright.

I watch her, silently, as she creeps

Slowly towards her prey.

I remain still, as if fast asleep

For this is not child’s play.

Her moving stops, she is ready

To jump up and attack.

I see her ascend, now unsteady; 

I gasp, and she looks back.

Her eyes are chasms, black holes throughout,

And my flashlight goes quickly out.


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