One of the first tips on how to write lyrics to a song that will really get your creative juices flowing is that it is sometimes good to just start writing anything that you are thinking about, feeling, or about what is happening in your physical environment right now. Creating a journal about what happens to you each day can begin to unleash that waterfall of words to pour into your songs.
Once you start placing phrases together the way they might appear in a verse or chorus of a song, there are a few really important steps that, if overlooked, can cause both writers block and poorly written lyrics.
While there are many equally valid ways to write, here are a few tips about how to write lyrics to get you started in a fruitful direction:
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Define your concept.
When writing creatively, don’t forget that eventually you will want to define a specific topic for your song. Ask yourself “What is this song about?” and see if you can clearly answer that in one sentence. Then ask yourself if the answer is a specific enough topic to be interesting.
For instance, if it is a love song about a relationship, what kind of love are you writing about? Love you both share, unrequited love, new love, comparing a past love to the present one and hoping you can let go, co-dependent love or an addition to the wrong person. If it is simply honest love for a partner try about narrowing it down. How about “loving the way he or she gets dressed in the morning,” and having each section about a different piece of clothing.
Choose your title.
How to use the title can be the best tips on how to write lyrics to a song. If it is catchy, that can be a great starting point for a chorus with a strong melodic hook that people will remember and want to sing along with. Don’t just go with the first thing that comes to mind, make a list and chose the best one.
Watching you get dressed I love the way you dress Undressing you with my eyes Underneath that hat You glow beneath those clothes I want to tie you up with that purple tie etc.
Develop your lyrics.
Make sure each section of the story develops. For example, verse one could be about “the shoes you wear make me feel strong when we walk together,” verse two, “your pants make me blush and smile,” verse three, “your shirt makes me sparkle when you grab me with your arms,” and the chorus could sum everything up with “I just want to take them all off.” Another type of development could be chronological, A happened first, which led to B happening, which finally created C, the entangled mess we are now in. And when developing the story sequence there are other ways to think about how to write lyrics to a song as well.
Create a pattern for song sections.
How to write lyrics is much more about patterns than in free form creative writing. Without over complicating the process, a simple way to get started is by creating relatively equal lengths of lines, and a limited number of lines per a section. Four line sections using three or four stressed syllables per line are quite common. For instance:
I like the buttoned shirt you wear The silky slippery sound That tingles through my knotted hair When curves are slid around
Stress Patterns and Rhyme Scheme considerations are some of the most important tips on how to write lyrics to a song.
Above, the stress pattern is:
First line 4 stresses, second line 3 stresses, third line 4 stresses, fourth line 3 stresses. And the rhyme scheme is: a b a b
Let’s change it around and see how it comes out:
I love the shirts you wear They tingle through my knotted hair That silky slippery sound When sweaty hands are slid around
Now the pattern is:
First line 3 stresses, second line 4 stresses, third line 3 stresses, fourth line 4 stresses. And the rhyme scheme is: a a b b
When you have a pattern for verses it is a really good idea to use it as a template for your other verses, keep the stress and rhyming patterns but fill it up with new words that develop the story in the next verses. In songwriting, it is this pattern recognition from verse to verse that keep listeners engaged in your story as it develops.
Use imagery to enhance your lyrics:
Notice the images in the verses above that add so much color to the phrases: buttoned shirt, silky slippery sound, knotted hair, sweaty hands, etc. Going back line by line to add imagery where it is missing is one of the best tips on how to write lyrics to a song.
Put the Title in the Chorus and repeat it:
Underneath that hat Your sunshine eyes fill moonbeam nights Underneath that hat Our hearts will rise as embers light
And feel free to change the placement of the titles to lines 2 and 4 instead, or the many other possibilities that exist, especially when you use more than 4 lines for your chorus.
Map out a lyric structure
Some very useful tips on how to write lyrics for a song in verse-chorus structure (note that there are other types of song structures) deal with how to structure your lyrics. For a basic a basic verse-chorus structure try – verse 1, chorus 1, verse 2, chorus 2, vary structure with a solo or bridge section, verse 3, chorus 3 and 4. But feel free to get creative with the many possible variations to this.
These quick tips on how to write lyrics to a song will get you started, but keep in mind that there is a lot more to the craft. I suggest grabbing a FREE copy of “21 Ways to Write Better Songs,” to help you become a really great songwriter.
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Thanks, Kevin Thomas
What Are Your Experiences Writing Lyrics? Please Comment Below.
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