Just a note: Please bear in mind that I'm just as new to this as you are.
I find that writing things down help me to do them more efficiently, therefore I am writing this lesson so that it may help you, and me. The lesson will be split into 'steps' which I believe will help make the process of writing easier.
First things first:
When I write I use notepad on my computer, this is just a personal preference. I write initial ideas and thoughts, occasionally these grow into bigger ideas. I suggest having a word processor open to write on, or if you prefer a more conventional method, a pen and paper.
Step 1: Story Line
A method I have not previously attempted, but I have a feeling it could be a good start.
Lets take a song which we can study;
I'm going to use Misery Business by Paramore because it has a decent story line which makes it a good model. The song is about getting the guy she wants, and having to battle for him and eventually winning (my interpretation). Basic enough wouldn't you say, so how hard can it be?
A decent imagination is kind of a necessity at this point. In your head, or on paper, create a story, something to base your song around.
For example you may choose something such as, breaking up with someone you still love, maybe it's about something a bit happier, such as getting the person you want, maybe the best day you ever had. It could literally be anything, as detailed or basic as you want, different people may find it easier to use something basic, other people prefer more detail.
Once you have your story line you can move onto the next step.
Step 2: Language
I have a massive love of language, the use of words never bores me, and I love learning new words (especially big ones :]). You may choose to use elongated words or short words, this could depend on your story line or personal preference. If your story is about something happy you may use long, drawn out words to give a feel of being relaxed and joyful, if it's a sad or angry song, short, staccato words can make the song punchy. I enjoy using a mixture of short basic words along side with long extravagant words.
Incubus are a great example of word usage, "On the verge of spontaneous combustion, woe is me. But I guess that it comes with the territory, an ominous landscape of never ending calamity." A sense of confusion is added by the long words, but it also makes it clear he knows what he's talking about, a wonderful example of language.
You may be lead to believe that rhyme is a vital must have in songs, this is not true. Many songs can have added effect from purposefully not rhyming. "You may even say, that I think about you every.." you would expect the next word to be day, would you not? But adding a short pause after the word 'every' then saying 'night' is a tasty little touch. You may even go to the next line and rhyme something with the expected word 'day'. That line was not from a pre-written song, I simply needed an example so made it up. Another technique I enjoy using is rhyming the last word of one line with maybe a middle word or first word of a next line, and the other way around as well, experiment, you don't learn until you try.
Language is covered, but it would probably mix with the next step too.
Step 3: Writing the song (First Draft)
Using the previous two steps you are now in a position to start writing. The order you write the song is totally up to you, chorus first or verses first, you may even have a bridge you already have in your head, get it all down, chances are it'll change eventually anyway. A catchy chorus is always a must have, you need something people will remember after they hear your song, rhyming is good for making it catchy, as is a good tune. Complex words could make it memorable, but used badly could make it confusing, your chorus needs to outline your story line you wrote originally. Verses are a good way of describing how you feel about your chorus, maybe even something totally different, as long as it all makes sense at the end. Basically, put everything in your head, onto paper.
Step 4: Second Draft or Final Draft
I suggest doing the next draft a few hours later, or maybe the next day, which is what I did with this lesson, give yourself some rest from your song so you have a chance to change your views and feelings. Go back to your first draft with fresh eyes, you will most probably find bits you don't like, bits you love more than before and you'll probably have new ideas popping into your head. Personally I would do two or three drafts before creating your final piece, fresh eyes bring fresh ideas, which therefore bring fresh, capturing songs.
Right folks, that's a wrap. I hope I managed to help you or at least give you new ideas.
Cheers for looking, feel free to comment, I'll answer asap.