Ways to Simplify the Art of Writing a Sonnet

Did You Know?
The credit for inventing a sonnet goes to the 13th century Sicilian poet Giacomo Da Lentini, who served as a notary at the court of Frederick II.
The sonnet, a traditional form of poetry, originated in Italy, some time during the 13th century CE. The word “sonnet” is derived from the Italian word sonetto, which literally means “a little poem”. It is a very lyrical kind of poetry with a fixed rhyme scheme, and a subtle, rhythmic meter. As the popularity of the sonnet grew across the world with the passage of time, this form of poetry was adopted in many other countries with numerous famous poets working on it. Consequently, the sonnet evolved, and as we can see from many of the later creations of English, American, and even Urdu poets, we can say that it matured as well.

While writing poetry, special emphasis is almost always laid on its rhyme and rhythm so that it becomes more appealing for the reader. Learning to sonnet would be a good way to make the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern’ meet―you can stick to the traditional rules of writing a sonnet, while making use of the modern words, thus, ending up creating an evolved and sophisticated poetry. Also, you can say more things in lesser words and that too, in a very romantic way. Buzzle brings you a few practical tips to help you write a soulful sonnet.
How to Write a Sonnet
Sonnet, as mentioned above, evolved over the ages, and so, the format that the first Italian sonnets used also underwent a significant change. In fact, Shakespeare came up with his own, distinct style of sonnet writing, which has thenceforth been known as the Shakespearean Sonnet. Nevertheless, there are a few elements that, even to this day, continue to remain common for all the sonnets. These are as under:

► Each and every sonnet has to have 14 lines; no more, no less.

► Every sonnet has to be written in the iambic pentameter, which means that five (‘penta’ means ‘five’) syllables in each line are specially stressed upon, when the sonnet is read aloud.

► Every sonnet has a fixed, set rhyme scheme. Rhyme schemes may differ from one sonnet to the other; however, within a single sonnet, the poet has to compulsorily follow one, single rhyme scheme; diversion from it may destroy the entire rhythm of the poem.

►Each sonnet, irrespective of whether it is Italian, Shakespearean, Elizabethan, Occitan, or Spenserian, always has a volta. In poetry, volta or turn indicates either a rhetorical variation, or a subtle shift from one emotion and/or thought to another.

Apart from the points mentioned above, every sonnet is written in its own peculiar way. Let us consider two different sonnets and try to analyze what goes into writing them:
Prologue to Romeo and Juliet
“Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which, if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.”

― William Shakespeare
On His Blindness
“When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.””

― John Milton
Tip 1: The Number of Syllables
In a sonnet, each of the 14 lines comprise ten syllables, which means that there are total 140 syllables in the entire sonnet. While writing a sonnet, this is the very first thing to keep in mind; none of your lines can contain more (or less) than 10 syllables.

Consider the first lines of the above sonnets:

“Two households, both alike in dignity”
Now let us split the words into individual syllables:
Two1-house2\ holds3-both4\ a5-like6\ in7-dig8\ ni9-ty10

“When I consider how my light is spent”
When we split these words into individual syllables, we have,
When1-I2\ con3-si4-der5\ how6-my7\ light8-is9\spent10
Tip 2: The Iambic Pentameter
The iambic pentameter has to be used uniformly throughout the sonnet. This means that you will need to see to it that five syllables out of ten in each line are stressed more than the others, while you read your poem aloud. The use of this poetic meter imparts a natural rhythm to the sonnet.

Let’s look at the five stressed syllables in the first lines of both the sonnets.

“Two households, both alike in dignity”
Two1-house2\ holds-both3\ a-like4\ in-dig5\ ni-ty

“When I consider how my light is spent”
When1-I\ con2-si-der\ how-my3\ light4-is\spent5
Tip 3: Understanding the Structure
Before you start working on a sonnet, it is vital to understand the various divisions within it. Take a look at the following terms:

►Quatrain refers to four consecutive lines of any poem or a stanza.
► Sestet refers to six consecutive lines of any poem or a stanza.
► Octave refers to eight consecutive lines of any poem or a stanza.
► Couplet refers to any two lines of the poem or stanza, which rhyme with one another.

Shakespearean sonnets invariably have three consecutive quatrains (the first 12 lines divided into three parts of four lines each), and one couplet (the last two lines that rhyme). On the other hand, Petrarchan sonnets comprise one octave (the first eight lines) and one sestet (the last six lines).
Tip 4: The Rhyme Scheme
Rhyme scheme is essentially the pattern in which the lines of a given poem rhyme with each other. The common practice is to use alphabets to indicate two lines that rhyme, with rhyming lines marked with the same alphabet.

Consider the first quatrain of our Shakespearean sonnet:

“Two households, both alike in dignity, (A)
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, (B)
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, (B)
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” (A)

So, the rhyme scheme of the first quatrain is ABBA.

Now, consider the second quatrain of the same sonnet:

“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes (C)
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; (D)
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows (D)
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.” (C)

So, the rhyme scheme of the second quatrain is CDDC.

Similarly, consider the third quatrain of the sonnet:

“The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love, (E)
And the continuance of their parents’ rage, (F)
Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove, (F)
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;” (E)

So, the rhyme scheme of the third quatrain is EFFE.

Lastly, look at the remaining couplet:

“The which if you with patient ears attend, (G)
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.” (G)

So, the rhyme scheme of the couplet is GG.

The rhyme scheme of our Shakespearean sonnet is ABBA CDDC EFFE GG.

Now, let us take a look at the rhyme scheme of our Petrarchan sonnet. Consider the octave:

“When I consider how my light is spent (A)
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, (B)
And that one talent which is death to hide (B)
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent (A)
To serve therewith my Maker, and present (A)
My true account, lest he returning chide, (B)
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?” (B)
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent” (A)

The rhyme scheme of the octave is ABBAABBA.

Now, for the remaining sestet:

“That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need (C)
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best (D)
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state (E)
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed (C)
And post o’er land and ocean without rest: (D)
They also serve who only stand and wait.”” (E)

The rhyme scheme of the sestet is CDECDE.

So, the rhyme scheme of our Petrarchan sonnet is ABBAABBA CDECDE.
** It should be noted that while the rhyme scheme may differ from sonnet to sonnet (of the same type), the structure mostly remains the same. It should also be noted that the Petrarchan sonnets of Dante differ in structure, in that, they have two sestets and two quatrains.
Tip 5: The Plot
After understanding all the prerequisites of a valid sonnet, the next and final step is to develop a plot. Generally, every sonnet begins with an idea, the poet builds on it in the first six to eight lines, and then takes a turn―volta. In the remaining six or seven lines, the tone of the sonnet tends to suddenly change, while the poet either comments on the idea he has attempted to develop and/or tries to solve the problem, if the plot involves one.

►In our Shakespearean sonnet, the first two quatrains describe the plot and the backdrop of Romeo and Juliet in a nutshell. The volta can be noticed at the third quatrain, which tells the audience about the next two hours of the show. In the last couplet Shakespeare promises the audience to be patient and quiet and watch the play, as everything that the prologue (that our sonnet is) leaves out, can be seen on stage.

►Similarly, in our Petrarchan sonnet, Milton begins his first octave by telling us that he is blind. He further says that he believes in his talent, and how he wants to continue serving God by being patient and indulging in the thing he can do the best (writing poems). The volta is visible in the next sestet, wherein Milton speaks about God’s reaction, who tends to remind the poet that He is sovereign, and man should always keep faith in Him, no matter what.
Examples of Sonnets
Here are a few examples of other sonnets, just to give you an idea about their structure and the rhyme scheme that they may follow.
Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room
Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room (A)
And hermits are contented with their cells; (B)
And students with their pensive citadels; (B)
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom, (A)
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom, (A)
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells, (B)
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells: (B)
In truth the prison, into which we doom (A)
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me, (C)
In sundry moods, ’twas pastime to be bound (D)
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground; (D)
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be) (C)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty, (C)
Should find brief solace there, as I have found. (D)

― William Wordsworth

The above sonnet has an octave and a sestet, and its rhyme scheme is ABBAABBA CDDCCD.
The Cross of Snow
In the long sleepless watches of the night (A)
A gentle face-the face of one long dead- (B)
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head (B)
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light. (A)
Here in this room she died; and soul more white (A)
Never through martyrdom of fire was led (B)
To its repose; nor can in books be read (B)
The legend of a soul more benedight. (A)
There is a mountain in the distant West (C)
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines (D)
Displays a cross of snow upon its side. (E)
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast (C)
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes (D)
And seasons, changeless since the day she died. (E)

― H.W. Longfellow

The above sonnet has an octave and a sestet, and its rhyme scheme is ABBAABBA CDECDE.
Happy ye Leaves! When as Those Lilly Hands
Happy ye leaves! when as those lilly hands, (A)
Which hold my life in their dead doing might, (B)
Shall handle you, and hold in love’s soft bands, (A)
Like captives trembling at the victor’s sight. (B)
And happy lines on which, with starry light, (B)
Those lamping eyes will deign sometimes to look,(C)
And read the sorrows of my dying sprite, (B)
Written with tears in heart’s close bleeding book. (C)
And happy rhymes! bathed in the sacred brook (C)
Of Helicon, whence she derived is, (D)
When ye behold that angel’s blessed look, (C)
My soul’s long lacked food, my heaven’s bliss. (D)
Leaves, lines, and rhymes seek her to please alone, (E)
Whom if ye please, I care for other none. (E)

― Edmund Spenser

The above sonnet has three quatrains and a couplet, and its rhyme scheme is ABAB BCBC CDCD EE.
One thing is for sure, writing a sonnet is not an easy task. One has to practice it over and over again to achieve perfection. It is needless to say that a poet has to make utmost use of his/her feelings and emotions while writing a sonnet, so as to add a soul to it. It is also essential that you read other sonnets aloud so that you understand all the technicalities, including the use of iambic pentameter. The louder you read, the easier it is to identify the “stressed” syllables. So, what are you waiting for? Go on and write down your own sonnet; you will surely bring a smile on your loved one’s face.

Tips to Help You Master the Art of Glass Painting

Glass painting is a remarkable form of art, comprising gorgeous synthetic colors done up on glass. The combination of glass and paints gives the painting an ethereal appeal. Glass painting is very interesting to do. Glass painting kits contain an outliner, which is meant to keep the different shades of glass paints in place. One can either unleash one’s creativity and paint freehand, or else use templates. Four main types of paints are available for glass painting: stained glass paint, vinegar trace paint, matte paint and silver paint. Each type is meant for a specific purpose. For example, if one wishes to include a variety of colors on the piece of glass, then the stained glass paint is suitable. Vinegar glass paints are appropriate when one wants to add a tint of color. However, these vinegar paints are quite sticky! For painting a clear glass vase or bowls, one can use silver paint, as it adds a hint of silver, thereby giving a translucent effect to the painting. Matte paint, on the other hand is useful when one wants complete coverage without translucent aspects.

Glass Painting Instructions and Tips

Glass painting is quite easy to learn, and can be done without many hassles. Keeping a few tips in mind, before the commencement of the glass painting project will prove beneficial.

  • The piece of glass chosen for glass painting should have a smooth, plain and clear surface. Printed glass and designed surfaces should not be used, as the painting will not be prominent then. Since natural oils from the hands tend to smudge the glass surface, it is advisable to put on surgical or latex gloves while handling the glass piece.
  • The glass surface should be cleaned thoroughly, to free it from dust and dirt. The glass paint will fail to stick on a dusty surface. One should make use of warm water and soap to clean the surface of the glass. The glass surface should be thoroughly dried using a paper towel or clean piece of cloth.
  • People not confident about freehand painting can trace the design on a sheet of drawing paper and then tape it to the inside of the glass piece. Make sure the piece of paper chosen is the same size as the glass piece. This is one of the easiest glass painting techniques, as once the picture has been taped, all one requires to do is paint, using the traced paper below as a reference. People using freehand style should place a white cloth or paper below the glass, for clarity while painting.
  • Trace out the design using the black liner provided in the kit. This step must be done carefully, as it is this black outline that defines the final glass painting. Make sure the lining is smooth, with least number of breaks and bumps. One can carry out this step slowly, taking as much time as one requires.
  • Be careful not to smudge the previously drawn outline while outlining another portion of the painting. Allow the outline to dry completely. Beginners may find some extra lines formed while outlining. Such extra lines can be removed with the help of a blade or outline thinner.
  • Once the outline has dried completely, the painting is ready to be adorned with vibrant glass paints. Depending on the design of the painting, the paints are to be chosen. Glass paints come in bottles with a user-friendly nozzle, which allows one to apply the paint directly onto the glass. However, if the glass paint is available in wide-mouth bottles, then the paint can be applied using a regular watercolor brush (a thin one). Stir the bottles well before use, and never mix them with water, as water thins the paint.
  • Narrow down the painting in smaller zones, and concentrate on one zone at a time. This way, the painting will not appear so intimidating. Always remember to allow the paints in one zone to dry completely before doing the adjacent ones. This is because there is the possibility of paints from one zone seeping into the other through the outline, and then merging. This will ruin the entire painting.
  • While applying the paints, one should ensure that the glass piece is kept intact. Moving the glass can cause the paint to run all across the painting, thereby ruining it. The glass piece should not be disturbed until the glass paint dries completely. Keep siblings and pets away! Once the paint has dried, the painting is ready to be framed and hung on the wall.

All one requires for this art is the interest to paint, some creativity, and lots of patience. One can look online for designs for glass painting, whereby one can try out different kinds of paintings. Once the skills of glass painting have been mastered, one can even try one’s hand at stained glass. Glass paintings make great gifts, and since they are homemade, they are appreciated even more.

Ideas to Master the Art of Creating Monumental Anthologies

If you have ever thought about making an anthology of essays or stories on a similar theme for potential publication, perhaps you thought it might be easier than writing your own book on a topic. If you have attempted to put together an anthology, you know it is much more difficult than it looks. Either way, if you think you might want to publish an anthology, there are a few things you should know before you get started.

Selecting a Theme
The first thing you need to do if you think you want to compile an anthology is select a theme. Your theme should be interesting enough that you will grab readers and writers without too much work. Think of things going on in your life or in the lives of others about which people have interesting things to say. Think of something, also, that hasn’t been overdone, or that has a new twist. You should also be sure to make your topic narrow enough, so that you know what types of essays you will get, but broad enough that every essay doesn’t sound the same.

Finding Writers
The first thing you want to do, before writing a proposal, is to find about ten or so writers who are on board with your project. This can be difficult, as they will not necessarily be paid or published as your project hasn’t been bought yet. However, ask around; you may be surprised. Once you find those writers, make a deadline for their essays so you can be sure to get them in your proposal.

Writing a Proposal
When you write your proposal, you’ll need to be sure to include a sample introduction. The essays you’ve collected and edited so far, as well as a marketing strategy and some research as to what books are out there on your topic, and what makes your book different or more interesting. It never hurts to also include any media outlets to which you already have connections, as well. A quick internet search can yield many results for sample proposal templates.

Submitting a Proposal
Once your proposal is written and refined, you have a choice. You can send it to potential agents, or you can send it to publishers. In the nonfiction world, it’s possible to do it either way, but in the fiction world, you probably want an agent to shop your work around for you. Regardless of whether you are submitting the proposal to agents or publishers, be upfront about whether you are submitting it to multiple places or not. Many publishing companies will not look at a manuscript if it has been submitted elsewhere.

Finding More Writers
Once your proposal has been accepted and your project has been bought, you’ll need to find more writers. In a collection of essays, 35-40 writers would be ideal. Depending on your publisher, the writers may not be paid, but you can sell your project to them by enticing up and coming writers with the promise of having their names in print. It is also possible for contributors to make money from speaking engagements and press releases if their work is quoted or used. No matter what, be upfront with your writers, and have firm deadlines.

Editing and Ordering Works
Once the writers have submitted their work, you must make edits to the pieces. This is standard. Be sure to edit for content and style, and make sure you also check with the writers for acceptance of your edits. After everything is edited, selecting an order for the works is crucial. You want the pieces to flow from one to the other, so readers will go from cover to cover without stopping.

How to Help You Perfect Sand Sculpting and Sand Art

Sand art and sculpting have become very popular in recent times. It remains to be an activity that has caught the fancy of children and adults alike. Take a stroll down any sandy shore, and you can see people reveling in festivities and celebrating sand sculpture and art festivals. This is where we can see budding talent all geared up to go beyond the ordinary in crafting their creations. This art has gone beyond magnificent castles with soaring towers. Today, the mere combinations of sand and water have gone complex with the various creative forms of sand sculptures being constructed by people for their sheer love of this art form. Myrtle Beach proudly showcases the world’s tallest and longest sand castle ever constructed. People have created masterpieces through sand sculpting. From prominent figures to cars, castles with moats, and fantasy lands, the themes are endless.

Tips to Build the Perfect Sand Sculpture/Castle

Before you begin the sculpture, you must first ensure you have the right tools. Ensure you have packed a long-handled shovel and a bucket. Try to include chisels, spatulas, apple corers, spoons, ice cream sticks, knives, and pastry brushes. The main idea is to improvise on the items used for sculpting. (Use a fork with the prongs broken off in the middle. This will make it easier to form columns in the sand castle). Next, you will need to include a spray bottle, as the sculpture needs to be kept moist to keep the surface firm whilst you construct the castle.

Once you have gathered all the tools, it’s time you hunt for the right location on the beach. First, keep a look out for the high tide line. You can test the formation of the sand before you begin. Pick up some sand and compress it in your hands and roll it into a ball. If the ball does not remain firm, it clearly shows that it is not meant for any such art. You also need to look for a place that is moderately away from the sea.

After you have found the ideal location, start digging. You need to keep digging till you reach wet sand. This would be your initial tough task. It needs to be done, as it is this wet sand that will give a firm foundation to your sculpture.

Now, you need to accumulate enough wet sand to start with the building and carving. This is known as the process of tamping. A form is basically used for tamping. This is what results in building towering structures. Use the form (box or plastic can sans the base) to begin your construction. Place the form on the spot. Now, add the sand and water into it. As you proceed further with the process, remember to tamp it firmly.

Once the form is filled, try to lift it slowly. Once you have finished with the base form, you can create other forms on top of that base. The idea now is to mold the wet sand into the shapes you desire. Try to retain as much water as possible with the forms. Use the basic mounds of sand to create various shapes you desire.

Once you have finished with the basic structure, it is time to unleash your creativity. Always start carving from the top. Carving must always be done in the outward direction. Do remember to concentrate on the entire structure rather than attempting to complete one side at a time. Always try to create basic shapes. Use materials like aluminum cans on the castle to create the look of outposts, towers, etc. If you scrounge through items at home, you can come up with various little unused items that will enhance your sand castle.

The limit to your creativity is endless. Today, sand art and sculpting have got a professional touch with new sculptors entering this bracket, and creating some of the most whimsical forms of sand sculptures seen on coastlines today.