Lyric Writing Tips – Exercises to Improve Your Songwriting

lyric writing tipsWriting songs is a creative act. Here are some valuable lyric writing tips you can use when writing songs. As with most creative activities it does require a certain level of skill. In order to write better songs there are certain thing you can do to improve your skill. To improve your skill can try some of these exercises.

Start With an Idea

Every song starts with an imaginative spark. Humans are creative beings. Therefore it is natural to express our thoughts and ideas. As a songwriter your creative outlet is through songs. Your song communicates ideas to others.

Getting inspiration can happen at any time or any place. If you are in tune with your surroundings you will find an abundance of ideas. If you are aware and have the right mind set, you will never run out of song ideas. Ideas are the raw material of your songs.

Grow Your Idea

A key component that will improve your songwriting is the ability to take your ideas and grow them into songs. Hopefully you catalog your ideas either by writing them in a journal, or dictate them into a recording device. Ideas for lyric are as volatile as smoke. Therefore you need a system to capture your ideas.

The best way to grow your ideas is through brainstorming. Brainstorming will allow you to think and expand on your idea, building upon the original thought. This could give birth to new thoughts. But eventually you will have a well develop concept on which to write lyrics.

Give Your Song a Title

Once you have a clear concept for your song, you need to give it a title. The title is the key to any lyric. It is the main topic of the songs. Getting the song title right can make the rest of the lyric writing process easier. Your song’s title should summarize the story behind the song.

The title will usually end up being the main hook found in the chorus. Highlight the songs title by repeating it several times during the song. There are several positions where a song title is place. Once spot is at the end of the chorus. Another spot is at the beginning of the chorus. Another popular spot is at then end of the verses.

Turn the Title into a Story

At this point you should have a very clear idea of what the song is going to be. To improve your songwriting you need to turn the title into a story. There are certain things a story needs to have.

The story needs a plot.

The plot will contain a picture of the characters, there will be some sort of tension or conflict, a solution will be found, and the tension is resolved.

The story needs a point of reference.

The song can be first person, second person or third person. Once you decide on the point of reference keep it consistent, avoid switching the reference point.

Every story progresses through time.

There will be a starting point, a middle point and an end point. You can change to emphasis of a song by playing around with the order of the time periods.

As you develop the song’s story line make sure that every line supports the title of the song. Anything that distracts from the title needs to be removed. The key to better lyrics is to write to the song title.

Use Descriptive Words to Paint a Picture

The job of a lyricist is to paint pictures with words. This painting or words blended with the emotional feel of music is what make songs such an amazing art form. There’s a difference between telling and showing. Telling is a very academic way to express ideas. Showing however will paint a panorama of the story. Showing in lyrics will make the song more vibrant, entertaining and memorable.

Rewrite the Story into Song Lyrics

Now that you have a clear and concise picture of the song title and its storyline, you need to craft this into lyrics. Lyrics follow certain patterns. These patterns include the number of lines per verse and chorus. Each line in each section will has a repeating meter. The meter is the number of syllables in each line. This meter will create a rhythm pattern.

It is often helpful to have a melody line written at this time to help you match your lyrics to the musical patterns. Many songwriters feel that the lyric should come first, that is fine. But if you have a melody already composed, your job is to write lyrics that will fit the melody. When you have a melody it helps you know what syllables to emphasize based on the song time signature.

Give the Lyrics a Rhyme Scheme

As your lyrics take form and have structure lyric needs to rhyme. The human ear likes to hear the sound of rhymes. There are many different ways to make a lyric rhyme. You could solicit the help from a thesaurus. Use it as a tool by note to write the song. Song lyrics with have certain rhyme patterns. This is where you will find a pattern of where the rhyming work falls. The most popular position a rhyme word is positioned is at the end of a line. Let’s say you have four lines. Here are some rhyme pattern possibilities.

  1. All four lines rhyme
  2. The first and third lines rhyme
  3. The second and fourth lines rhyme.

There are many others, these are some of the more popular rhyme patterns.

Rewrite for Refinement

It is very rare that a song will be finished on the first effort. That is why rewriting one of the most important lyric writing tips. Rewriting lyrics is a way to polish them. Polishing them will make the better. Better written songs will help its success in communicating the original idea. If you want to be a better songwriter you need to take this step very seriously. Check the song lyrics for grammar errors. Rewriting includes Making sure that the lyrics match the melody. Have someone you trust to be honest listen and provide a critique. Consider what they tell you and make necessary changes. The result of rewriting is making you a better songwriter.

Use these lyric writing tips to help you the next time you write a song.

As a songwriter good lyrics are important to the song. First you start with an idea. You then take that idea and develop it. Once you have the idea developed give the song a title. The title is the most important element of a song. From the title a storyline is written. Once the story is outlined you can then turn them into lyrics. Lyrics have certain characteristics. Lyric consist of a specific number metered lines per section that will have a rhyming pattern. Use these lyric writing tips to help you the next time you write a song.

John Pape - Songwriter - Author - GuitaristThis article Lyric Writing Tips – Exercises to Improve Your Songwriting is presented by John Pape. John is dedicated to assisting songwriters create and write better songs. Songwriter’s can download the Songwriter’s Report a free resource  that will guide you though the creative and practical process of writing a song.
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  • Songwriter Tip:

    Often a new writer gets so tied up in rhyming that the rhymes force the song to use words that sound like the words were picked simply because they rhymed, not because they helped the song. Don’t get discouraged. Like anything, writing good songs takes practice and some effort. A rhyme works best when it seems like it was an accident that words rhymed, and the lyrics are so fresh that the rhyming isn’t even noticed, the song just has that ‘effect ‘of all fitting together somehow and rhymes were a part of that. Rhymes should not be in the way; they should be like the icing on the cake that made it taste better.