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Old 09-13-2012 until 09-12-2016
The Hurt Within
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The S+L Forum Rules + Critique Advice Article - MUST Read Before You Post!

Hey and welcome to S+L!

Please note before anything, that if you’re asked to read the rules and then further break any of the following it will result in a warning.

Now that is out of the way...


You may only post work written by yourself, if your thread does not contain this, it will be closed.

Discussion of your favourite lyricists’ can be conducted in the Techniques forum or the Community Thread. Musician theory questions go in Musician Talk

This is restricted to one piece per day; two per 6 days. Any extra threads will be closed and you’ll have to wait 5 days before you can post another piece, posting again will result in a warning.

Do not hyperlink to a piece elsewhere, the lyrics must be contained within the thread and do not post more than one piece in a single thread.

Only the title of the piece and the genre/style (e.g. Screamo/Poetry) are allowed in your titles. If you can’t think of one “Untitled” will suffice. With the exceptions of W.I.P. (Work In Progress) and O.T.S. (On The Spot) which are permitted.

Any of the following are not permitted:
  • Symbols or attention seeking devices
  • Solid capitalisation
  • begging for a critique (I.e. C4C or Please crit mine!!)
  • HTML, because it doesn’t work
  • Swearing

It is expected that for every piece you post, you critique at least 3 others. Without this the forum could not survive.
The more you comment on the more replies you are likely to get. You may leave a link to your piece at the bottom of every critique you finish; this makes life easier for them to find your piece. If someone comments on yours, you are expected to return the favour to them.
Any offensive replies to pieces will be dealt with at the Mods’ discretion, this includes spam.

Do not post in your own thread to bump it to the top of the forum for no reason; the only time should be when you are replying directly to a question asked.
Do not double post at any time, use the edit button on your first comment.

There will be an instant warning for anyone that posts in his or her thread to bump it, and then deletes the post – we can see it.

No polls are allowed in the main S+L forum.

This is down to a Mods’ discretion. If you are unsure about your piece contact a mod first. Anything referencing: Racism, Homophobia, sexism, insulting and generally needless violence will be deleted on the spot.

You can post any form of original work, this includes: Lyrics, Poetry, Prose, Parodies, Short Stories, Screenplays and Scripts. There is no limit on the length of pieces; but a standard post has a maximum of 10,000 characters, they can be as short as 1 line too.

This is only allowed if you have made dramatic revisions to your piece, i.e. replaced a stanza, minor edits can be made to the original thread.
Do not under any circumstances repost a piece because you received no critiques, you’ll get a warning.

If you have had your thread closed for an infringement of the rules you may repost the thread immediately, correcting the mistake that was highlighted by the Mod upon closing. (This does not include breaking the posting limit rule.)

By this we mean threads infringing one of the above rules, any argumentative posts or pointless posts. Follow these steps:
  • Post in the thread to explain what the user has done wrong; also direct them here so they can read the rules. End by adding *reported* to the bottom of the post, this means no one else should reply, under any circumstances.
  • Use the small red exclamation mark on the left side of their post to report the thread. P.S. You will not be punished for wrongly reporting someone.

Here is a little bit of info on all the stickied threads we have in S+L:

Writing of The Week
This is for the home grown talent in S+L. It is decided by a secret panel of users, who nominate pieces and decide at the end of each week on a single piece to be displayed at the top of the forum.

The Community Thread
Our hang-loose thread, there’s little in the way of rules, (they can be found in the first post of the thread). Use it to introduce yourself, post a picture and talk about anything you want, as per site rules of course.

The Feedback Thread
If you have a suggestion or complaint about S+L then post it here, it is open for anyone to question or answer, everyone will discuss your post and a decision, hopefully reached. However, a Mod’s word is final.

Writer of The Month
On the 1st of every month a nomination thread is stickied for 7 days; here you may nominate 1 writer you think deserves recognition for their work that month. (The rules can be found in the thread itself) Then a 7 day public Poll Thread will replace the nominations and you have one vote to cast on your favourite from the list. The Poll winner will fill out our questionnaire and have it stickied in place of the Poll Thread for the remainder of the month; it is the highest recognition for a writer in S+L.


Right so this article isn’t designed to lecture you about critiques, it’s a guide, some easy to follow steps to help you help others. Bare in mind this is how I critique, it might not be the best nor the most helpful way, but it should help nonetheless. If anyone wants to add anything feel free to contact me via PM.

Helpful Sites and Books:


Also track yourself down a copy of "Eats shoots and leaves" its an invaluable companion. If you're really beginning to get into the poetry side of things 'the poetry handbook' by John Lennard is a must. "It draws examples from authors ranging from Virgil to Milton to Donne to Eliot to Cummings to Bob Dylan. (Thanks Gurgle!Argh! for the recommendation.)

Saying ”yeah this is rly gd, I <3 it. Now do mine!” isn’t a critique, and quite frankly I’d give you nothing in return. (N.B. If you're caught again after a verbal warning, official warnings will be made) Critique someone else as you would like to be critiqued. If they don’t return it, stick ‘em in a black book.

I’m going to lay this out in a step-by-step basis:

1 –
Read through the piece at least once, preferably two or three, read it out loud, this is essential, so as to gauge what it’s about, the writer’s intentions and distinguish the type of poetry/prose or lyrics it is. Upon second read try to look for any techniques the writer has used, things you could comment on later.

2 – Break down each stanza one by one focusing on faults. (detailed below)

• Firstly look for overall tense issues, changes from past/present/future tenses, that don’t seem intentional. It is a common error, and is normally down to using the wrong word format.

• Then look over the basic grammar, are full stops and semi colons (misuse is abundant on these forums) are correctly used, etc. I would like to stress here that while in lyrics it’s possible to get away with, poetry usually benefits from using grammar, it can aid flow, emphasise certain words and generally alter the tone of piece, so try to help with this too.
However please exercise caution when correcting grammar. Poetic License is also in action on these boards; allowing the writer to use commas in unconventional places thus altering flow and tone among other things. Just take a closer look a think could this be intentional.

Spelling mistakes are a minor issue, but sometimes the writer makes a typo or more usually they just can’t spell and wouldn’t normally notice. Hurt those people.
Much like the above, occasionally a writer will appear to be spelling a word wrong where in reality you might not know of its existence or it is fully intentional. Take 'timbers' and 'timbres' for example. Also it is possible a writer will create a neologism, (the combination of two existing words to make another with clashed meanings).

• Next look for clichés, now many newer writers conform to their favourite artists, and thus don’t know any different, try and give them hints on Metaphors and Simile, it’s a good basic start for them, Also if they use cliché words; pain/hurt/falling/shatter/heartbroken etc. Then suggest some synonyms for them. Iterate it’s not a problem to use a thesaurus, but do emphasise that using a word they don’t know the meaning to can effect their usage of it. I.E. wrong tense etc.

Rhyme: I have no problem with rhyme but when it’s used poorly it can greatly diminish a pieces quality, using standard rhymes like; eyes/disguise, pain/vain, heart/part etc. Point out overused rhymes and give a few options to them. Also point out the benefits of not rhyming in places. The fact that rhyming constrains the writer into a few words , whereas if they weren’t rhyming they’d have a plethora of words to convey the message, so it’s a trade off.

Flow. This is a major issue with songs, yeah they look good, but does it really flow, you can have a really clever line ruined by the fact it doesn’t flow with the rest. By flow I mean as you read the piece do you find yourself having to cover your tracks, stop and think too much or just find yourself getting tongue tied. Advise them on certain techniques that aid flow, rhyme is one, but more subtle techniques include Alliteration (words beginning with similar sounds ”In the midst of mist”) Assonance (words containing similar vowel sounds "The balloon floated to the moon") or the more subtle internal rhyme.

Structure is important too, any piece can be ruined by poor structure; songs tend to have a set scheme, 4 line stanzas being the most evident. With songs structure usually isn’t as important as it is in poetry, whereby isolating single words can emphasise the meaning and cutting lines in half so as to make the reader ponder further the reasoning behind it. Does the piece seem too cluttered, or would a certain line sound better away from the main stanzas.

Diction is one of the vital aspects of writing, choosing the right word at the right time is a skill, and the larger your vocabulary the easier it is. Sometimes you will come across a word that seems out of place, point it out and offer an example of replacement. Don’t be shy about looking words up either; after all you’re learning something too.

• Its always worth mentioning the content too, sometimes a piece can be spoiled by a certain metaphor that doesn’t fit, or perhaps a line that takes away some of the meaning, other times parts may seem utterly confusing, occasionally you’ll find words or lines that are just there for show and carry little or no meaning whatsoever.

• Finally add any personal preferences, likes/dislikes to content and/or certain metaphors etc. This is important, but generally not why the writer wants you to critique the piece. While it does carry some weight to the ego, the writer should know that one mans mum, is another mans fantasy.

3 – At the end I like to give a summary; an overall impression on the piece as a whole and how it left me feeling. Ratings out of 10 mean nothing; you’re likely to change the system the very next day anyway. Say why you liked it. Perhaps offer them a general hint as to their writing as a whole, maybe you’d like to see them tackle a more rigid structure, or loosen it, perhaps cut the rhyme. Also if you recognise a style it may be worth suggesting some writers/poets or even fellow users who may appreciate their style.

Approach a song with rhythm and flow in mind, remember that parts may not be grammatically correct, nor will it read like a book. Certain filler words may be left out so as to compensate for structure. Whereas with poetry remember to look at it line-by-line, carefully paying attention to personal inflections or neologism (creating a new word, usually through the combination of two existing words) by that I mean the writer may twist the conventional usage of adages, phrases or words. Not to say that a song can’t but it’s usually poetry which allows this freedom.

I’d also like to add here that there is no harm in giving short critiques, if the piece is pretty solid and there’s little fault to be found then say a few words, pick out the pieces weak spots, even if they are still good, but are generally weaker than the rest, its something. As long as you contributed something the writer should have no qualms with you. You need to pick your full-critiques carefully, so as to benefit the right people. A decent critique should take around 10-15mins.

Hopefully that is of some help. Words in red are found explained in the Lyrics Tips thread found HERE

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