Top 3 ways to write a sonnet poem

Discover the top 3 ways to craft a captivating sonnet poem.

By:   Hazel Max, Published on: 2024-01-27, Last Updated: 28-06-24

Reviewed by: Daniel Oliver

Table of Contents

A sonnet is a unique poetic form with 14 lines following a specific rhyme scheme. It's like an exploration of an idea, wrapped up in beautiful language.

In this guide, we'll explore:

  • Basic ways to write a sonnet poem
  • Sonnet rules 

So let’s start!

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Top 3 ways to write a sonnet poem

top 3 ways to write a sonnet poem

There are a few different ways to structure a sonnet, each with its own way:

1. Writing a sonnet in petrarchan structure 

writing a sonnet in petrarchan structure

  • Divide the sonnet into an octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines)
  • The octave presents a theme, question, or observation
  • The sestet provides a resolution, commentary, or conclusion
  • Follow the rhyme scheme: abba abba for the octave
  • Use either cdecde or cdcdcd for the sestet's rhyme scheme

2. Make a sonnet in shakespearean structure

make a sonnet in shakespearean structure

  • Structure the sonnet into three quatrains (four lines each) and a final couplet (two lines)
  • The quatrains develop the theme or narrative
  • The couplet offers a summary, twist, or conclusion
  • Follow the rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg

3. Write a sonnet poem in a spenserian structure

Write a sonnet poem in a spenserian structure

  • Similar to the Shakespearean form with three quatrains and a couplet
  • The rhyme scheme is: abab bcbc cdcd ee

Sonnet Poem Rules

Sonnet Poem Rules

Here are five essential elements that define a sonnet poem, explained briefly:

  • A sonnet must consist of 14 lines, traditionally written in iambic pentameter. This means each line has 10 syllables with a specific stress pattern.
  • Sonnets follow a rhyme scheme. The most common is the Shakespearean rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The Petrarchan sonnet, or Italian sonnet, is ABBA ABBA CDE CDE.
  • Sonnets are divided into two sections - an octave (first 8 lines) and a sestet (remaining 6 lines). The octave presents the theme or problem, while the sestet offers a resolution or commentary.
  • Many sonnets include a "volta," or turn, where the poem shifts in tone, perspective, or metaphor, often around lines 9-11.
  • Traditionally, sonnets focused on love, but modern sonnets explore diverse topics like nature, death, social issues, etc. However, they maintain the sonnet structure.

Final Words

Writing a sonnet can be a fun challenge that lets you share ideas in a special way. You can choose from three main styles: Petrarchan, Shakespearean, or Spenserian, each with its own pattern. 

Remember, a sonnet has 14 lines, a set rhyme scheme, rhythm in iambic pentameter, and a change in theme partway through. By following these rules, you can create beautiful and meaningful sonnets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three rules of a sonnet?

A sonnet has 14 lines, typically uses a specific rhyme scheme, and often explores a single idea.

How can a poem be a sonnet?

A poem can be a sonnet if it follows the rules of structure and rhyme scheme

What are the 5 characteristics of a sonnet?

  • Compose 14 lines poem
  • Follow the iambic pentameter
  • Write about love.
  • Split in two sections octave and sestet.
  • Pick the rhyme scheme
  • Use a volta / turn.

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