Lyric Writing Tips
Here are some tips and pointers that may help you improve your lyric writing skills.
Lyrics tell the story, convey the story, and communicates information from the writer to the listener.
Write what it real for you, what you feel, and what you love. But before you begin write, ask yourself, would an artist want to say this and would millions of people want to hear it.
Generally, a 3 minute song contains 28 lines of lyric (to tell your entire story and evoke the desired emotion in the listener).
- A lyric needs to express one idea.
- A lyric should maintain consistent style and tone throughout.
- A song should evoke one emotion.
- A song should maintain a consistent tone throughout.
- Strong lyrics maintain continuity.
- Strong lyrics incorporate detail, action, and imagery.
- Lyrics should tell the story, not the feelings.
- Paint pictures in your lyrics by using Action, Color, and Detail.
- Avoid preaching
Lyric Workflow Example:
- Start with a title or interesting phrase.
- Write down other phrases, images, and thoughts suggest by the title (as single words or short phrases).
- Try making short sentences with the words and phrases. Make sentences from difference points of view: you, I, we, they, etc. No rhyme is required.
- Write and develop the music – Think about the feeling the music invokes; angry, happy, sad, energetic, fast, slow, etc.
- Speak the words to the music before attempting to sing them. Use natural melody from syllables.
- Most of the time, begin working on the chorus and then the verse, and then the bridge if applicable.
The 3-step lyric writing techique:
- Start with a title
- Outline the story
- Write the actual lines of lyric
A strong title:
- grabs your attention
- envokes powerful emotions
- is unusual
- is interesting or intriguing
- is clever
A method used to create a lyric “palette” of words and images applicapble to a song. This palette is composed of words and phrases that relate directly to the title.
The List Technique:
A method use to create lyrics from a series of examples that relate to, and clearly lead the listener to, the title. (Also known as a Laundry List)
Plots or story lines for songs:
- Attitudinal – a song that expresses a single attitude or emotion.
- Situational – a song that explores a situation.
- Story Song – has a plot with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Incorporate Detail, Action, and Imagery into Lyrics
- Describe where you are.
- If you’re indoors, describe the room, including the furniture, using as much detail as possible.
- If you’re outside, describe the setting in detail.
- Is there music playing?
- Describe the sounds you are hearing.
- Describe the weather in detail.
- Note the time (time of day)
- Provide a detailed description of what you’re sitting, standing, or leaning on.
- Describe what’s happening in your body.
Avoid Redundancy – Each line of lyric should:
- make a contribution to the overall song/story
- further the development of the story
- lets the listener know (more and more) how the singer is feeling
The second verse: ((Then what happened? What else happened?)
- Continues the story
- Adds new information
- Brings the listener back to the title
- Helps hold the listener’s attention
- Contributes to making the lyrics easy to remember
- Provides a sense of completion and satisfaction for the listener
Types of Rhymes:
- Perfect rhymes (tree-free, boat-goat)
- Slant Rhymes [invoke a sense of rhyme] (love-touch, hurt-were)
- Masculine Rhymes [one syllable] (boy-toy, about-without)
- Feminine Rhymes [two syllable] (lover-discover)
- Triple Rhyme (vanishing-banishing)
- Internal Rhyme (if you feel it’s real)
- “You hurt me bad in a real good way”
- “New way to light up an old flame”
Assonance: incorporating the same sound on the stressed vowel of two or more words to create added interest aurally.
- You say no way
- Hold on or I’m gone
- This time you’ll find you’re mind
Alliteration: use of two or more consonants that have the same sound
- I’m falling forever
- Now I’ll never know
- The way we were
Keep is conversational: As opposed to poems, well written lyrics:
- Have sections or specific lines that are crafted to be repeated
- Are intended to be sung, not read silently or aloud
- Use rhymes (poetry may or may not use rhymes)
- Take into account the actual sound of the words, not just their meanings
- Are crafted to lend themselves to strong melodies