Creative writing activity for individual writers

Writing a Sonnet

Objectives

to write a formal love poem

to write towards a clinching final couplet

to work with rhyme and half-rhyme

Organisation

individual writing

Example

Shakespeare’s sonnets

Notes

Shakespearean sonnets have a final rhyming couplet. This needs to be poignant, funny, clinching...

Rhymes can be rather destructive in the sense that if they take over the poem may go in directions that make little sense. They may also look rather forced. Half-rhymes may be a good answer, especially if the consonant sounds are rhymed precisely, but the vowels are used rather more freely (Seamus Heaney is a master of half rhymes as is Winfried Owen)

Procedure

Imagine someone or something you feel very strongly about.

Brainstorm as many ideas and images around this person or thing as you can.

From this list, pick the one that you find is the most interesting / to the point / noteworthy / funny / touching. Then write a couplet about this. (It is a good idea to walk rhythmically while you compose this couplet to make sure that the final product scans.)

Then try to pick three themes from the remaining points. It may be a good idea to try to group them according to emotional intensity with the most intense theme last (provided it can lead over to the final couplet). In any case, keep in mind that you are ‘writing towards’ the final couplet.

For the rhyme scheme, see below.

When you’ve finished the first draft, walk around rhythmically and try to recite the sonnet by heart. This should ensure that you get the scansion right.Once that’s the case, write the whole text down once more.

Edit, edit, edit.

Rhyme scheme

a
b
a
b

c
d
c
d

e
f
e
f

g
g

 



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