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I've been creative writing all my life, though with various haitus(es) along the way. IFrom 2010 I started this blog and enjoyed sharing writing and other information with everyone. illness and bereavement supplied the more recent hiatus.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Limerick Off ~ How do you write yours?

I am thrilled to say I was winner of Limerick of the Week (17) on Mad Kane's blog in the last but one week’s Limerick-Off. (1st line supplied)

A wo-man who al-ways felt free (8 syllables)
Used to hang up-side down from a tree
(9 syllables)
In the dead of the night (6 syllables)
A young boy took a fright
(6 syllables)
Now he’s scared to go out for a pee
(9 syllables)

For anyone who doesn't know
A limerick is

·         a kind of a witty, humorous, 'nonsense' poem that nevertheless, tells a story.
·         usually in five-lines with a strict (AABBA) rhyme scheme,
·         based on the rhythm "da-da-Dum" (anapest metre)
·         Lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme with each other and have three of those da-da-Dum "feet".
·         Lines 3 and 4  rhyme with each other and have two da-da-Dum "feet"
·         The content is often humorously obscene.
·         The form can be found in England from the early years of the 18th century.
·         It was popularized by Edward Lear in the 19th century, although he did not use the term.

So how do I compose my Limericks?

It's tempting to want to write them off-the-cuff and some people are able to very easily, but like a good poem research is the key.

So then Madeleine Kane gives the first line for everyone to use as:

A gal who was lovely and fair

Now it is the second line that must have the hook to draw the reader in. So I turn to my Thesaurus for ideas.

Does she have a fair complexion; blonde /auburn hair?

Had fly-away gingery hair  or  Had fiery, ginger-red hair or maybe beneath all that loveliness she had a difficult, naughty, willful streak

Who didn’t like washing her hair.  Or  Who liked to lure men to her lair

or is she honest, impartial and unbiased?

Who had an uncompromising air

Now, before I tie myself in knots over the next 2 lines, I must decide how it will end, so having chosen line 2, I think about the last line rhyme and where the story is heading.

I finally came up with two:

A gal who was lovely and fair
Just didn’t like washing her hair.
It got so entangled
And wiry and brambled
That Sparrows began nesting there.

A gal who was lovely and fair
Often liked to lure men to her lair
She tore off her vest
And puffed out her chest
Then lay with her legs in the air.

How do you write your Limericks?

UPDATE: After the busy week sorting out my mum, which was a relief, I had to return again as my dad was admitted to hospital with a serious, re-ocuuring complaint, so it's been something of a nightmare week. As he cannot speak and as hospital notes are locked away at the weekends I'm glad I was there to help answer their questions. I expect to return to Bath again tomorrow.


  1. I haven't ever written limericks, but yours are great! They made me LOL :)

    I didn't know so much went into them, either, wow!

    Hope you're having a great weekend and it's nice to 'see' you :)

  2. There was a man fron Nuntucket....


    Yay for you!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!

    Take care

  3. I couldn't write a limerick to save myself.
    About yours.... I hate coffee in my nose but I love to laugh, you gave me both this morning. Thanks so much.
    You taught me something too but 'll think about tat later.

    Take care.

  4. Your limericks are amazing. You are a true master!

    Hope your dad gets better soon.


  5. Congratulations, Maddie!

    I haven't tried my hand at a limerick in some time but it is a delicious form of verse.

  6. Glad I made you laugh.
    Sorry about the coffee in the nose though Mary :O)

  7. I can write technically correct limericks, I just can't make them funny! I love that last one of yours.

    Sorry to hear about your Dad. You're all having a tough time at the moment. Thinking of you and your parents.

  8. I don't think I could write limericks but I'm always charmed when I read them.

    That's a real talent!

  9. What a wonderful post! You give some great insights into your limerick-writing process. And I certainly appreciate your multiple mentions of my Limerick-Offs. :)

    I'm so happy you're a regular participant. I always enjoy your contributions! Congrats again on your Limerick Of The Week win. You're surely bound to be a multiple winner. :)

    So sorry to hear about your family illnesses. My best to everyone!

  10. Congratulations!

    I've never tried writing a limerick--and I quite doubt I would do as good a job as you do at making them hilarious. :)

    I'm sorry to hear about your dad! I hope he's better soon.

  11. Madeleine, congrats! Man, that is one heated contest every week, and to win is to win BIG!!

    I write limericks when I'm feeling snarky. Problem is, I never can write to one of Mad's prompts. But here's an example of one I wrote:

    Enjoy. Yours I thought would win, if only for the "pee" line, which almost made me do the same!Amy

  12. Hey Madeleine,
    Well done, you! :)
    Ah yes, limericks...There was a young fella' named Skinner, who took a young lady to dinner....
    Ummm....maybe better leave it at that :)
    On a serious note, I hope all settles down in your personal life and your upcoming week is more peaceful for all concerned.
    Take good care, Gary.

  13. Wow! You really take your limericks seriously. I haven't written that many, but when I have they've been pretty much off the cuff.

    I'm not saying I know my stuff,
    But I write limericks off the cuff.
    I just sit down,
    Write like a clown,
    And if people don't like it that's tough.

    Yeah, something like that.

    Wishing well for your parents' health situations.

    Tossing It Out

  14. Congratulations on the win!

    I remember writing limericks in grade school and enjoying the experience very much.

  15. Hi Madeleine .. I quite often want to think up a limerick .. something will trigger the thought - but I've no idea how to continue - except it must sound right .. here though you've given a great example of how it should be done .. and then given us one fun and one naughty one ...

    I do hope all will be well - driving between two places is not at all easy especially as you're constantly thinking of your parents' and their needs .. hospital for one is not ideal..

    With many thoughts ... Hilary

  16. I assign limericks for my creative writing students, but I haven't written any of my own yet. I shall have to remedy that! Yours are great of course, and congrats on the WIN.

  17. Congrats. Loved the limerick. I have just written two limericks in my life.

  18. Hi Madeleine,

    Wow! I think this is your best blog post ever! Your examples sparkle with wit. Thanks for sharing your limerick-writing process with us.


  19. I'd like to say off the cuff, but I sometimes think that I think more about these things than I let on... I tend to stew on the words until they fall right for me.


  20. Bless you all for your lovely comments.

    I love the Limerick Lee.
    Brilliant! Sometimes I write them off the cuff too, but don't tell anyone ;O)

  21. Just checking in again to see how you and your parents are doing.

    Also I wanted to let you know I liked your post so much I linked it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.


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