Writing Challenge: Sonnets

Discussion related to the topic Writing Challenge: Sonnets

Forum : All About Writing : Writing Challenge: Sonnets

Douglas
Posted at: Apr 19, 2008 at 3:00 PM 
I'm not making this a writing prompt, because sonnets are fairly challenging to write, and the writing prompt would probably come and go before anyone got around to doing it!

Anyway, a sonnet is a 14 line poem, written in iambic pentameter. An Iambic Pentameter line sounds like this:

da DA da DA da DA da DA da DA

Here are two common styles of sonnets:

Elizabethan
The poem has three quatrains (set of four lines), followed by a couplet (two lines).

Each quatrain should address your subject from a different perspective, and the couplet should summarize or re-evaluate your theme.

The rhyme scheme is:

Quatrain #1: a b a b
Quatrain #2: c d c d
Quatrain #3: e f e f
Couplet: g g

Here's an Elizabethan Sonnet: Springtime Sonnet

Italian
The poem has an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines).

The sestet should approach the subject matter from a different perspective.

The rhyme scheme is:

Octave: a b b a a b b a
Sestet uses one of the following:
c d c d c d
c d d c d c
c d e c d e
c d e c e d
c d c e d c



Here's an Italian Sonnet: Joseph, Man of Joy and Tragic Woe
~Edited by Douglas, Apr 19, 2008 at 3:30 PM

Douglas
Posted at: Apr 19, 2008 at 3:01 PM 
If you write a sonnet, post a link to it here so everyone else can check it out!

stolen_water
Posted at: Apr 20, 2008 at 8:27 PM 
I've actually been wanting to do this for a while, but so far have lacked the inspiration and patience to actually give it a try. I think it would be a great creative excercise for anyone who likes to write. Forcing one's self to do something different and outside of routine can potentially yield astounding results, that no one might have ever thought were possible. I am definitely going to make an attempt at writing a sonnet at some point, though I have no clue what about. I am sure it will take me a long time to complete.

Douglas
Posted at: Apr 21, 2008 at 4:36 AM 
I think the structure of a sonnet is quite elegant - particularly the Elizabethan form. In this form, aside from the couplet, you don't have any adjacent rhyming lines. Which means you're far less likely to have a clunky rhyme that makes your poem sound like a tongue-in-cheek Dr. Seuss instead of a serious poem.

The general consensus (which I agree with, after trying both) is that for English language writers, Elizabethan sonnets are the easiest to write, because English doesn't have the wealth of rhymes that Italian has, so coming up with sets of four rhyming words (a requirement of the Italian form) is much harder.

I hadn't written any sonnets since college days - I don't have any of my old ones, but I'm pretty sure I've improved quite a bit since then.

And StolenWater, I agree wholeheartedly. Even if you don't care for sonnets, you can think of them like practicing scales on a musical instrument - they can really improve your technique a lot!

Douglas
Posted at: Apr 21, 2008 at 4:44 AM 
By the way, I would strongly recommend that you bookmark a site like www.rhyme.poetry.com , which is a rhyming dictionary. I find that to be an invaluable resource. I'm no Shakespeare, and being able to see a list of possible rhymes is a huge help in structuring my poem to make wise use of rhyming words.

thesaurus.reference.com is also very helpful.
~Edited by Douglas, Apr 21, 2008 at 4:49 AM

stolen_water
Posted at: Apr 21, 2008 at 7:52 PM 
I think it's possible that if I am sucessful with my attempt at an Elizabethan sonnet, I may very well try and Italian sonnet as well. Rhyming isn't usually too tricky for me and I enjoy working with strange rhyme scemes and structures. I think, for me the hardest aspect of doing this is going to be coming up with something to write a sonnet about and then determining what direction to take it in. It also should be interesting because I am not accustomed to having to strictly adhere to a specific writing structure. I typically just create my own, as I go.

Janee
Posted at: Apr 23, 2008 at 7:47 AM 
Attic Treasures. That's Elizabethan.

Douglas
Posted at: May 5, 2008 at 5:30 AM 
This is my response to the "End of the Word" writing prompt: The Music of the Spheres

You know, I think I could get hooked on writing sonnets. :)

Scribbler
Posted at: Nov 14, 2008 at 7:54 PM 
After trying all week to write a short story and getting nowhere I decided to challenge myself with a sonnet. It's not great, but I wouldn't mind if someone could check it out to see if the format and rhythm is OK.

Douglas
Posted at: Nov 15, 2008 at 3:45 AM 
Well, I posted comments on it, as you noticed. I also put it in the featured gallery, after you fixed the rhythm in the 3rd quatrain.
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