Sonnet Generator

AI Sonnet Generator: How to Write a Sonnet About Anything

Poets have experimented with writing formats for years, giving us techniques and rules to break and follow as we please. Once you learn the basics, writing a poem shouldn’t be that hard. In fact, you can even start having fun with it.

Sonnet Example

A popular writing format in the poem space is a sonnet. In this article, you’re going to find out how to write a sonnet, the rules you need to follow, and the standard formats available. However, before all this, let’s first understand what it is.

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What is a Sonnet?

The sonnet is a poetry art form born in the 13th century in Italy. This popular demanding poetry form was a beloved choice of the famous William Shakespeare, who wrote many of his historic plays using this 14-line writing format.

Sonnets are poems that consist of a final rhyming couplet and 14 lines. This is known as the Shakespearean sonnet. Poets use them as a poetic form, typically in English. Besides Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda and Elizabeth Barret Browning were also known to like using the Shakespearean format. Even Maya Angelou uses this art form in her “Harlem Hopscotch” poem.

Some sonnets concentrate more on how the language sounds while others want to showcase the imagery in literature.

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Types of Sonnets

The Shakespearean sonnet is the sonnet format many people are most familiar with. It’s also commonly referred to as the Elizabethan or English sonnet. However, there are many other formats as well, and here are some of them.

Shakespearean Sonnet

The Shakespearean sonnet became popular around the 1500s, during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Contrary to popular belief, William Shakespeare did not invent it. What makes this sonnet different is its rhyme scheme, which uses “ABAB CDCD EFEF GG”. The first line typically introduces a strong emotion or problem, while the last one provides its solution.

Italian Sonnet

Even though the Shakespearean poem is undoubtedly the most popular of them all, the one that came first is actually the Italian sonnet. In this sonnet, the poet uses 8 lines and then breaks them into 2 quatrains, instead of using 14 lines and then breaking them into 4 quatrains.

Spenserian Sonnet

Named after Edmund Spenser, a famous poet from England, the Spenserian sonnet has an “ABAB BCBC CDCD EE” rhyme scheme. Instead of letting the rhymes stand on their own as you’ll find in Italian and Shakespearean sonnets, this drags its rhyme in this one, giving the sonnet a tighter overall feel.

Miltonic Sonnet

John Milton is responsible for the creation of this sonnet, hence the name. He created the Miltonic sonnets by introducing some new twists to their Italian counterparts. He changed the overall format a bit and focused the content of the poems on personal thoughts and introspection.

One of the main things that differentiate this type of sonnet from the others is that it uses enjambment to help tighten the poem’s structure up and the sonnets mostly concentrate on moral issues and politics thematically.

Modern Sonnet

As you can see, there are many different kinds of sonnets available. The Modern sonnet is where a poet takes the classic versions and puts a new twist, mixing up stanzas, lines, and rhyme schemes.

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Example of Sonnets

Most of the classic sonnets often seem like letters of admiration. Similar to how haikus reflect upon nature, the sonnet was what you’d use to express your love and appreciation for another. And just like with the haikus, it’s also easy to deviate from that main intent.


The first example is “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun,” a well-recognized Shakespearean sonnet:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.


The second example is an Italian sonnet. It’s Elizabeth Barret’s “How Do I Love Thee?”:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.


How to Write Your Own Sonnet Poem

This art form isn’t as hard to learn as most people think. Why? Because its overall format is pretty rigid. Some poets tend to find it hard to stay with rigid structures and rhyme schemes, but keeping a template on hand for reference is never a bad idea.

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How Do You Start a Sonnet?

There’s no right or wrong way to both begin or end a sonnet. However, there are things you may need to consider when starting to write one.

  • The Question - A question or problem is what you’ll use as the foundation. It is what you should explore more throughout the sonnet. Opening the sonnet with a question can help give you an idea of where you’re going.
  • Comparisons - Many of the most popular sonnets use metaphors. Using metaphors is a good way to get a theme that can help make it easier for you to write.
  • Worry About Rhyming Later - Trying to write a sonnet fully equipped with a rhyme scheme can sometimes lead to writer’s block. It is quicker and easier to explore your ideas first and then edit the text later to fit a proper rhyme scheme and line structure.

The Rules of the Sonnet

The strict nature of the sonnet means it’s not hard for beginners to learn once they understand the basic rules. It has a very straightforward overall structure and format.

Sonnet Structure

Sonnets have many different elements and you’ll need to know them when drafting and planning out one.

  • Lines: A sonnet has 14 lines, which are broken down into sections called quatrains.
  • Rhymes: Every sonnet has a rhyme scheme. The 4 sections of the rhyme scheme show where the quatrains break.
  • Meter: A sonnet is also drafted in iambic pentameter alternating unstressed and stressed syllables.
  • Volta: A volta is a “turn” in the sonnet. It is the moment or line where the topic shifts. This is usually where the problem or question is addressed.
  • Sestet: The last 6 lines of the sonnet.

Worksheet: Нow to Write a Sonnet Step-By-Step for Beginners

Learning how to write a sonnet shouldn’t scare you, and it’s much easier than you’d think. You can write your own sonnet by following these simple principles.

Choosing a Problem or Theme

A sonnet typically explores the universal elements all humans experience which is what makes people relate to it.

Some of the most common themes in many sonnets include:

  •  Hardship
  • Change
  • Mortality
  • War
  • Love

Sometimes the writer is trying to tackle bigger problems concerning human life or offer commentary on certain social issues. Pick a theme that speaks out to you and one you’d like to break down deeper.

Picking the Type of Sonnet

A sonnet is either English or Italian. An English sonnet is what’s commonly referred to as the Shakespearean sonnet while the Italian one is known as a Petrarchan sonnet. Though both sonnets consist of 14 lines, the rhyme schemes and line structuring is different.

Writing in Iambic Pentameter

Poets use the iambic pentameter rhythm to write sonnets. An iamb consists of two syllables and plays the role of a metrical footprint in the poem. An iamb’s first syllable is unstressed while the second one is more emphasized or stressed. The syllables should sound like falls and rises when you speak them out loud. Repeating the iamb 5 times constitutes the term pentameter.

You don’t need to perfectly build iambs into 2-syllable words. You can stretch out the unstressed, stressed pattern across separate words. Pentameter means you’ll have 5 metrical feet for each line, totaling 10 syllables.

Organize Stanzas

Sonnets consist of 14 lines. Shakespearean sonnets have 3 quatrains and usually end with a final couplet. The volta or resolution doesn’t come until that last rhymed couplet makes a powerful final statement. However, Italian sonnets are made of a sestet and octave. The first 8 lines often introduce the theme or issue and the last 6 give the solution.

  • First Quatrain- An ABAB rhyme scheme will dictate how the lines end, for instance, ‘temperate’, ‘day’, ‘date’, ‘may’.
  • Second Quatrain- Different words will create a CDCD rhyme scheme, for instance, ‘dimmed’, ‘shines’, ‘untrimmed’, ‘declines’.
  • Third Quatrain- Again, different words to produce an EFEF rhyme scheme, for instance, ‘shade’, ‘growest’, ‘fade’, ‘lowest’.

These are the most commonly recognized quatrains and schemes.

Follow a Rhyme Scheme

Rhymes are made up of sounds that match after the lines end. In poetry, you use letters to identify rhyme patterns and rhyme schemes within a poem.

Italian sonnets usually have tight rhyme schemes:

  •  ABBA

However, English sonnets have much looser rhyme schemes:

  • ABAB
  • CDCD
  • EFEF
  • GG

Most poets like to use the looser options, especially beginners.

Incorporation of a Volta

Volta means “turn” in Italian. Turns can represent different changes in a sonnet. It can refer to changes in the sound, the theme, the image, or the emphasis of the message of the poem. The volta’s role is to show that the sonnet is leading to an end.

In the Shakespearean sonnet, the volta is found in the 3rd quatrain, and in the Italian one it’s found in the 9th line.

7.      Using Poetic Devices

You’ll need to incorporate literary and poetic devices if you want to enhance the message and imagery of a poem.

Imagery is very important when writing poems, and you can establish it via word choice and using figurative language like:

  • Similes
  • Metaphors
  • Personification

You can use alliteration to create symbolism and musical quality that’ll help give rise to a deeper message.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many lines are in a sonnet?

Standard sonnets have 14 lines. However, some writers might experiment by making new twists to the traditional format to come up with something fresh and new.

What is Iambic Pentameter?

Iambic pentameter is a metric line that describes the meter or rhythm established by the words in the lines. Rhythm is measured in feet, and iambic pentameters are lines that have 5 feet.

What is the Format of a Sonnet?

A sonnet contains 4-line stanzas (grouped in 3 quatrains) and a couplet made up of 2 lines. The poet should use an iambic pentameter to construct the piece. A sonnet basically consists of lines, rhymes, and a final couplet.