Sonnet means ‘song’. It is indeed a song to the ears. The way it’s woven, people read it over and over again. They never feel bored. That’s the power of this kind of poetry.
Though, I know some of you think that writing a sonnet is hell of a job. But let me tell you, it’s nothing short of an adventure. Before, I explain the steps to you, You should be aware of what kind of poetry is a Sonnet.
Things you need to know about Sonnet.
- It consists of 14 lines.
- It follows an Iambic pattern which means stressing the last syllables. The emphasize is give to the end syllables.
- Two main types of sonnets are – Shakespeare or English sonnet and Italian or Petrarch sonnet. These two were the best sonnet writers of their time.
- English sonnet follows 3 quatrains and one couplet whereas Italian one follows two quatrains and one setset.
- Quatrain stands for 4 lines, couplet stands for two lines and setset stands for 6 lines.
- The rhyming scheme involved for english is abab…cdcd….efef….gg and for Italian, it is abba…abba….cdcdcd.
Step-by-step guide for framing sonnet.
• Choose your theme.
The foremost important work is to find your theme or topic on which you are going to write. You don’t have to go online for searching topic. Just pick a topic you love to speak about, it’ll be easier.
Sonnet can be on Friends, Love, Pet, Nature, Father or your favourite actor. I advice you to start with an easy topic and once you are able to write poem on that. You can step up for a difficult topic. I’m assuming, you’ve chosen your favourite topic. So, let’s jump to next step.
• Pick any style of sonnet.
Next up is style. You can choose from English or Italian sonnet. As, you are on beginner stage so it’ll take same level of hard work to learn any of them. You can read various poems on both styles and then pick what style are you going to follow.
If you are a Shakespeare fan, like mostly people then you can opt out for English and if you want to follow the different lane then go for Petrarch or Italian one. In this post, I’ll discuss about Shakespeare sonnet.
• Follow the Iambic pentameter.
Before you start framing your first line, keep in mind that the line must follow Iambic pattern. This pattern means that in a line every other syllable is stressed out. Basically, it contains of 10 syllables in which one stressed syllable is followed by unstressed syllable. This means that five syllables are stresses while rest remain unstressed. It is a way of giving rhythm to your poem and often symbolizes that the words are spoken from the heart.
For example- if the word is Detailed, In this we can clearly see that ‘DE’ is a syllable with strong emphasize while ‘tailed’ is with weak emphasis.
• Follow the quatrain and couplet pattern.
In framing Shakespeare sonnet, you need to write 3 quatrain i.e. 12 lines. As, 1 quatrain is equal to 4 lines. After, this you need to add a couplet i.e. 2 lines.
Write on a subject with connecting lines till 3 quatrains and in couplet, give a changing line that totally opposes the subject.
• How quatrain works in a sonnet?
Well, you know that for framing Shakespeare sonnet 3 quatrain and one couplet is needed. But you need to understand how every quatrain works.
》 first quatrain.
Establishing the subject or theme you have chosen by the use of metaphors.
》 2nd quatrain .
Explain the metaphors you’ve used for your subject i.e. extending them with few poetic devices. In this, you have to give the reader the reasons to agree what you’ve said earlier.
》 3rd quatrain.
In this quatrain, you have to give a twist or volta. That turns out your whole perspective of what you were saying earlier. You have to start something what the readers aren’t expecting. Show them the second side of the coin.
》 couplet .
Lastly, add the closure line with a bold statement. It’ll leave the readers mesnerised about what they just read.
• Rhyme scheme.
The rhyme scheme that goes in this type of poem is abab..cdcd..efef..gg. This means the first line’s last word should rhyme with the third line’s last word. Second goes with fourth line’s last word. Similarly, the 3 quatrains are framed and last two line’s rhyme with each other as they are couplets.
You can understand this by a commom example-
She was like sun, (a)
Warm and fierce. (b)
She walks like on a rerun, (a)
and a smile that could pierce. (b)
You can even go for poet assistant, if you need help with generating rhyming words.
Volta means ‘turn’. In sonnet, the turn of argument, tone or thought takes place before a couplet. It changes the whole thought you were predicting earlier.
It’s not the conclusion. But it is the point that gives turning effect to your piece. Suppose, you keep argumenting about Internet is bad and in 9th line boom! you claimed it to be super good. That’s the power of volta to let your readers feel both ways and give them what they aren’t expecting.
• Poetic device.
I advice to use a fair amount of poetic devices, be it the metaphors, imagery words or alliterations. It gives the reader a visual treat . The point is to broaden your ways to express what you are going to say.
Be creative to choose which type of poetic device you are going to use and how. Be original in your approach.
• Final words.
• Make sure you are following the rules properly.
•The rhyming should be done according to the rule.
• Choose your subject wisely as this is the foundation of your whole piece.
• Experiment with words, poetic devices and subjects. Because the more you practice, the more you are going to be pro at it.
•Read, Write and read. You can go with Shakespeare or Petrarch as they are considered ‘king of sonnet’ in their respective genre. So, know in depth what they are talking about it and how they give it a quick turn.
•Now your sonnet is ready.
The most famous Sonnet XVIII of all times by Shakespeare.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Infographic representation of various steps for beginner in framing sonnet.
PS – Hope you enjoyed learning this type of poem. I am so excited to see your piece of work. Just put it in the comments or mail at my email.
I’ll publish it at my blog. If you are still facing any problem in framing it, just drop me a message and I’ll get back to you.