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A simple guide on how to write a Twitter limerick

Jan 24th, 2011
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This is a guest post from our Twittermantic Competition Judge William Clarke.

We all love a limerick. Grey-headed grandparents or giggling school girls, it hits the spot. A short, funny, sometimes saucy verse with a punch in its tail is the perfect poetic form for light-hearted romance. It can also convey some pretty deep and serious feelings too.

With the Hallmark Twittermantic competition proving so popular, now is the time to brush up your poetic skills.

HOW TO WRITE A LIMERICK

This cute verse form has five lines and a standard rhythmical pattern. The best way to learn is from examples. Read the following with feeling:

A romance can turn one to two.
Its magic can happen to you.
A boy and a girl
Once gave it a whirl
And found that their love had come true!

Some parts of words are stressed more than others. The “ro” of “romance” is stressed more than the “mance” part. From the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables we get rhythm. A good limerick follows the pattern above. Read it slowly and exaggeratedly to find the stresses. They follow a short (u) long (-) sequence: “u – u u – u u – “ for lines 1, 2 and 5. The lines 3 and 4 follow “u – u u –”

Little variations on this can work but it is good to know the best pattern. For example, the word “once” can be left out of the above without altering the meaning and it has a speeding up effect.

Lines 1, 2 and 3 rhyme with each other and so do 3 and 4. Stick to that and you won’t go far wrong. Try to make the last line witty or unexpected to give it a climax or punch. Reading lots of good limericks stimulates your own writing. A free limerick checker can be downloaded here.

HOW TO TWITTER A LIMERICK

The above verse has 137 characters and meets the twitter limit of 140. But as always there is a snag. To enter our competition you need to add @HallmarkUK and reply to them with your verse. This takes it to 147. So you can use text speak to reduce the length. This gives your ingenuity a test.

Dropping punctuation and even running the words together can be used if necessary.

@hallmarkcards A romance can turn 1 2 2
Its magic can happen to u
A boy and a girl
Gave it a whirl
And found that their love had come true!

Giving a comfortable 138.

The important thing is to have fun and let your imagination run riot. Then edit your rough draft to a slick, emotionally-potent verse. Strong, genuine sentiment for a loved one should shine through.

TOP TIPS FOR GOOD LIMERICKS

1. make it rhyme
2. give it rhythm
3. emotional content
4. clever word use, puns, alliteration
5. Good punch line
Now lets have some fun with a few examples!

A lover by boat, with devotion,
Had rowed halfway o’er the ocean.
He carried a rose
But it got up his nose,
And caused an almighty explosion!

The blazing of true love burns bright
Through stoking by day and by night.
To kindle a flame
Is never the same
As keeping a true love alight!

Our lass, blanky blank, though in fashion,
Decided her love she should ration.
The man that she sought
Was not very hot,
Until she inflamed all his passion!

More can be found on my website. William Clark is the author of “700 Limericks and How to Write Them” and discoverer of the true origin of the word “limerick”.

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