How to Write Limericks
The key to a limerick is its rhythm. Read the examples in this article out loud and try tapping along to the beat, or using a metronome. Like folk songs, limericks have a very simple but infectious beat, and a limerick will never work unless it can capture that feeling.
Once you have gotten the rhythm down, the next step is to figure out the rhymes. You’ll need a punch line at the end, and two lines at the beginning that rhyme with the punch line. Then, in the middle, you’ll need another two lines with a different rhyme, that help you set up the punch line.
Although limericks are very simple and easy to remember, it’s actually surprisingly difficult to write a good one! That’s probably because good comedy is hard to come up with when you’re just staring at a blank page. If you need inspiration for a punch line, consider doing what stand-up comedians do: keep a “joke journal,” and write down all the funny thoughts that pop into your head throughout the day. Over time, you will build up a rich supply of comedic inspiration.
When to Use Limericks
Always bear in mind that the limerick is almost exclusively a comedic form. Although a serious poem could still technically be a limerick, it would have a somewhat jarring effect. It would be like singing tragic lyrics to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
Because the limerick is associated with humor (especially rude humor), you must use it accordingly. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use a limerick to talk about sad or difficult topics – humor is often a very good way of dealing with these things. But if your poem is going to deal with something serious, it shouldn’t be flippant. It’s fine to write a funny poem about something serious, but the poem should still somehow acknowledge (at least tacitly) the seriousness of the topic.