Nothing but words and pictures…

How to Write Haiku

Mr. Klingensmith's Online Writing Guide

An easy to understand Online Writing Guide for beginning writers.  Here you will find a list of various writing models, general tips and hints to help guide you to writing success.

The big idea

Haiku is a kind of Japanese poem.  It comes from the 1600's, so it is pretty old, and it has some very strict and time-tested rules about how it is written.  Haiku allows you to present some very vivid images in a very small space.

Before you begin

Get a very, very clear picture in your mind of the image or idea you want to convey with your haiku.  Keep that image in your mind as you write.  Also: go into a haiku writing assignment as if you have to pay five dollars for every word you use.  That is to say, MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT.

How to do it

Now, we are obviously not going to write real Japanese haiku--if you wrote in Japanese, I wouldn't be able to read it--but we will do an American version.  In my class, you have a few clear rules about writing haiku.

  1. Your poem will be three lines long and each line will be of a certain length:
    • first line: 5 syllables
    • second line: 7 syllables
    • third line: 5 syllables
  2. Your haiku will suggest a particular season of the year
  3. Your last line will mention or suggest an emotion

Some examples

by Mr.  Klingensmith

A warm morning breeze:
The scent of onions drifts in.
Soon school will be out.
Out on Southside Road
Walnut blossoms have appeared;
Suddenly they're gone.
A wet December:
Our driveway is flooded out.
I will swim to school.
A cool, crisp morning:
The school year has just begun--
Mountains of homework.

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Copyright 1996-2004 by Michael Klingensmith