What are the rules for haikus?

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Answered by: Francis Zelaya, An Expert in the Forms and Styles of Poetry Category
What are the rules for haikus? Well, there are many rules for haikus and only a handful of them actually make it to the classroom board when teachers are instructing students. The truth is though, writing haikus is like writing a very short poem and shouldn't be intimidating. There actually exist two types of haiku poems; one which is fixed and one which is free form. A haiku with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5 is a fixed haiku and is more common than the free form. A fixed form haiku contains a total of seventeen syllables which are broken up into three lines known as the 5-7-5 pattern. The first line is to contain five syllables, the second line seven syllables, and the last line five syllables again. One seasonal reference must be used in the haiku, preferably in the first or third line since those lines contain only five syllables and it is recommended that the word(s) used are able to be said in one breath.

No mention of humanity is recommended in haiku, and no use of sexual or crime images; haikus are to create uplifting images in the mind’s eye, not depressing images. Something other things that should be avoided in a haiku are prepositions, verbs, and adverbs. Another rule to writing haikus is to limit the use of personal pronouns and to keep them in lower case when used. Capitalize only the first letter in each sentence and be sure not to follow punctuation rules. Yes, that’s right, do not follow punctuation rules. Punctuation is up to the writer and can be placed where the poet decides to it should be placed. Another note on capitalization in a haiku is that it is written in either all capitalized letters or all lower case letters, with the exception of the first letter of each sentence.Also, haiku is a form poetry and writing where sentence fragments are a writer’s best friend. Since haikus are broken down into syllables, sentence fragments are perfectly all right. In fact, the words used in a haiku shouldn’t create a sentence at all. The purpose of a haiku to create an image with the use of only a few words, with the first (or third line) being a nature word or an emotion word. A common question about haikus is also can it rhyme?

Although there are only seventeen syllables in a haiku, however, do not treat it as if it were a verse in a postcard. Haikus are in fact still poetry, and are an easy way to create an uplifting moment. If rhyming is something that the creator finds easy or fun, then by all means go ahead and create a haiku that rhymes.

Writing is something that expresses the creativity of the author, what goes on behind the everyday, what makes the wheels turn in the mind. Haikus are not an exception, treat writing a haiku like writing a poem or a play or a short story; aside from making the day a little bit better those seventeen syllables make just end up being award winning syllables.

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