Writing a love sonnet is an art and an act of love; indeed, it is a craft that has been practiced and perfected for centuries by many a famous poet. However, you don’t need to be William Shakespeare to pen a beautiful sonnet for the special someone in your life. By considering your subject, getting familiar with the poetry form and following some basic poetry rules, you will be on your way to writing inspiring love sonnets with ease.
Consider your Subject
Since you are writing a love sonnet for the special someone in your life, make them the centerpiece of your poem. Think about what you want to convey. Are there specific characteristics you would like to highlight? What do you admire or love most about the person? Is there an event or special moment you’d like to commemorate? These questions should help you gather your thoughts or decide on the content for your sonnet.
Usually, traditional English sonnets, also known as Shakespearean sonnets, are broken into two sections. The first section presents the theme, or main idea, of the sonnet while the second section gives the theme a conclusion. Once you know what you want to say, you will be able to decide which elements to include and where to put them.
Write down your general thoughts as this will be good to reference when you begin writing actual lines of poetry. Allow your list of thoughts to serve as a rough draft of sorts because it’s a lot easier to focus on following the form of the poem, getting the rhyming down and establishing rhythm if you already know what you want to say.
Know the Form
It is very important, when writing your love sonnet, to have a solid understanding of the style and form of the sonnet, because sonnets have a very specific format. It is important to follow the guidelines closely especially if you’re trying to write a true, authentic love sonnet.
As previously mentioned, sonnets are divided into two sections. There are specific content guidelines for each section and each also has a set number of lines. In the English sonnet, the first section has three quatrains, or three (3) four line stanzas; a stanza is a group of lines in poetry. The second section has a rhyming couplet, or two line stanza.
Take Time to Rhyme
Sonnets follow specific rhyme schemes. If you are not a wordsmith by nature, it may take some time to get in the right mindset; however, once you get started, you will have fun trying to come with pairs of words that not only rhyme, but also match the sentiment you are trying to convey. Some people do not are not good at rhyming, regardless of the amount of effort they put forth. If this is you, don’t feel bad. If you aren’t interested in the challenge, feel free to skip the rhyming. Some modern poets write sonnets without rhyme, also known as free verse.
Should you choose to write your sonnet free verse, keep in mind that rhyming makes reading the sonnet aloud fun to listen to and read and, as an added bonus, the object your affection might appreciate the extra effort.
In the English style, the rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f in the first section and g-g in the second. Each letter represents the last word in the line that rhymes with the corresponding letter. For example, if the last word in the first line is “kiss”, then the last word in the third line would be something that rhymes with “kiss”, like “miss” or “bliss”.
Follow the Meter
A poem’s meter indicates the way the syllables are emphasized, or stressed, in a sentence and how many syllables are in the sentence. Following the meter is important because it gives your poem the musical lilt that makes listening to poetry fun.
English sonnets are traditionally written in iambic pentameter, which means a line of poetry has ten syllables or five feet. A foot in poetry is made up of two iambs, or syllables; the first iamb is unstressed while the second is stressed. “Good bye” is an excellent example of iambs. Said aloud, “good” is said more quietly than “bye”, so it is said, “good BYE”. Every other syllable in a line of iambic pentameter is stressed. An example of a line of iambic pentameter is from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, with the stressed parts boldfaced and capitalized: “Shall I comPARE thee TO a SUMmer’s DAY?”
While writing in iambic pentameter can be tricky, you will be surprised how often you actually speak in iambic pentameter. Count the syllables and say the phrases aloud to get an idea of which parts are stressed.
Deliver the Sonnet
Once you have finished your work of art, it’s time to deliver it. Buy some flowers or some chocolate then find a balcony, a park or some other romantic location and read the object of your affection your work of art. Have fun with it! Your special someone will appreciate the hard work, creative energy and love you put into your love sonnet.