Published on February 27, 2014
Writing a Sonnet THE BASICS
Four things that most sonnets have in common 1. They are written in iambic pentameter. 2. They are fourteen lines long. 3. They have a set rhyme scheme. 4. They have a turn or “volta.”
Fourteen Lines A Shakespearean sonnet has three quatrains, (a quatrain is group of four lines) followed by a couplet (a couplet is a group of two lines). The turn (or “volta”) in a Shakespearean sonnet typically comes at the beginning of the third quatrain. This gives the sense that the sonnet has built to a sort of point before being brought home to its ending, which is then punctuated by the final rhyming couplet.
Rhyme Scheme One rhyme scheme for a sonnet could be: ab ab cd cd ef ef gg. Another might be: abba cddc effe gg. The Italian sonnet has a rhyme scheme of: abba abba cde cde or abba abba cdc cdc.
The Turn or Volta Placing a volta in a sonnet is the most difficult part for many people. When you are walking through a field, you may at some point decide to change direction by turning. You might turn one small degree from your previous direction, or you might turn all the way around, 180 degrees and head in the opposite direction. You may do the same thing in a sonnet. The turn usually comes at the ninth line.
Volta (cont’d) An easy example of a turning point would be, lines 1- 8 ask a question or series of questions and lines 9-14 answer the question or questions. The turn might be in the theme of the poem, the sound of the poem, the emphasis of the message or image of the poem.
Works Cited http://www.sonnetwriters.com/how-to-write-a- sonnet/
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