Writers' Ink at Caledon Public Library

Writing a Shakespearean Sonnet

The two poems (Alack Alack Alas and Not a Valentine’s Sonnet) recently posted are in a form known as Shakespearean Sonnet. Here is Alton Writers’ Ink member and sonnet lover Judy Zarowny’s description of how these are created.


The poem has fourteen lines, divided into three quatrains (stanzas) of four lines each followed by a concluding couplet of two lines –

Quatrain (stanza) one introduces the topic, or thought to be explored

Quatrain two develops the topic

Quatrain three further develops the topic

The couplet sums things up.


The rhythm in each line is comprised of 5 beats, called iambic pentameter.

So it basically goes like this –  ta DUM  ta DUM  ta DUM  ta DUM  ta DUM

Eg. the first line from Shakespeare’s sonnet 18, shows us the way,

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day

The bolded parts in the line shows us where the down beat falls; in other words they are the ‘DUM’s’ in the ‘ta DUM’s’.

Rhyme scheme:

Considering the sound of the word at the end of each line,

the rhyme scheme of quatrain one is –  abab

quatrain two is – cdcd

quatrain three is – efef

the couplet – gg

About Alton Chapter

The Alton Chapter of Writers' Ink meets the 1st Wednesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Alton Branch.

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This entry was posted on April 11, 2017 by in Alton Chapter, Writing Advice and tagged , , .

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