Writing Lyrics (Things To Consider)

So you're convinced you want to write? Let's find out then some things which are closely related with writing lyrics. What I am trying to do is give you basic guidelines to follow when writing.

Writing Lyrics (Things To Consider)
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So you're convinced you want to write? Let's get to it then. But first, some definitions of words I'll use.

Metaphor - Stating one thing for another, (e. g., "The thunder of passion strikes us / In the dead of night / When the ship of grief comes to rest"?obviously 'thunder of passion', and 'ship of grief')

Simile - A comparison between two things using the words 'like' or 'as', (e. g., "His skull shattered / Like the glass far above", or, "He came to us / As a phantom in the night."

Now, let's just find out some things which are closely related with writing lyrics. What I am trying to do is give you basic guidelines to follow when writing. But the reason you get better at writing is mainly because you write on a regular basis. So please, consider what I have to say, and then practice writing (bearing in mind these 'tips').

Flow/Rhyme

The lyrics you have written should flow, and an easy way to make them flow is to contain some sort of rhyme pattern and some internal rhymes. Of course, I think the rhyme patterns should be original and should deviate from the norm as much as possible. If you have the standard AABB, rhyming couplet style your very serious lyrics may come off sounding as if they were a nursery rhyme or something. So like I say, be original. Experiment with rhyme schemes.

Analogies

Now, sometimes little or no editing to the initial draft may be needed, (which is often the case for advanced writers), but a lot of the time various changes are required, because - as you may see in the forum - people post lyrics, which mean a lot to them, but just don't touch the hearts of anybody reading them. I'm sure they poured gallons of emotion into them, but it isn't raw and it doesn't sound like it's from the soul; instead it feels like it's from the mind. When writing you could make this your mantra: "heart leads head". On occasion, you may write about something tragic that happened in your life, but none of the grief or devastation will connect with the reader/listener. This is probably due to the fact that you got too sentimental in your words, and forgot that others may not be able to feel the emotion, due to the simple fact that your words are words and nothing more. Remember, words are a vehicle designed to transport the reader/listener. To paint fully defined pictures, you need a lot of different colours. The same is true for a writer. He needs lots of different techniques at his disposal. For a writer to paint pictures with words he will need to make connections, and to do this he will need to use either similes or metaphors. The picture will then be interpreted differently by each reader/listener and most will find a different emotion in it. This is why metaphors and similes, when used correctly, can create truly wonderful lyrics.

Styles - Which One Is For You?

Let me make it clear that I'm not talking about genres, but merely categories that lyrics can fit into. There are thoughtful and emotional lyrics, in the same way that there are literal and metaphorical lyrics. Find a style for you. Obviously thoughtful lyrics tend to be provocative and their main aim is to make the reader/listener think. Then there are emotional lyrics, which try to make the listener feel. For further explanation on both of these types of lyrics go here. Then there are the two different styles of lyrics, which of course are literal and metaphorical. Perhaps, the term 'literal' doesn't do justice to the style of writing however as it implies they are simple or cliched. But if you want proof that this is not the case and that you can make brilliant but fairly literal lyrics, then go check out Agincourts article, which can be found here. As for metaphorical lyrics, well I think I covered most of that above when I discussed editing. Though there is one thing to be wary of: do not write lyrics that contain an abundance of metaphors, because in truth, they'll come out in an unintentionally confused manner, and most of the ideas will become redundant.

Length

This shouldn't really affect too many people, but I might as well discuss it anyway. Try to keep your lyrics as to the point as possible, (I. e. try not to ramble or wander). If you plan on singing your lyrics as part of songs, then it is a good idea to keep the amount of words to a minimum so that you can sing them to the best of your ability without having to worry about fitting 350 words into a 5 minutes song, (believe me?I've tried it and it's not enjoyable). The shortness of your lyrics doesn't matter really. I mean, as long as you have a verse (minimum of roughly 4 lines) then you can make a song whereby you just repeat that 1 verse. Though I wouldn't recommend this, as it puts pressure on you to write 1 amazing verse. I'm trying to think of a rough length that would be - in my experience - good for you, but of course it depends on what type of music you plan on doing. Though I think maybe 150 words is a good guide. Don't be afraid to go over or under that though. I'm just saying, that if you want to allow yourself some freedom in how you sing the song, (what you repeat, the amount of held notes, the length of time between each line etc. ), then I think that 150-200 words is a good length for the lyrics to be. But don't hold me to that, because that's not taking into account the average amount of syllables per word. I guess I'm rambling now?and for that I apologise.

Shaping The Invisible

Someone famous (can't quite remember who) said that is what song writing is. And the thought is entirely correct. You start with nothing but your mind and your heart, and maybe a pen and page, or a PC, and you end up with a fully formed set of lyrics. It's a strange, but wonderful feeling whenever you finish writing a set of lyrics. You just sit there and think, now I have something that I didn't have before. For some of us, that is our only drive anymore. But heck, it's an incredible drive. Who doesn't want to gain constantly? As Springsteen said, "Poor man wants to be rich / Rich man wants to be king / And the King ain't satisfied / Until he has everything". It's human nature. I beg you; conform. If you start writing, you'll reaprewards. You'll have lyrics to add to music, so that your band (or you individually) can create songs. And songs?well that's why you're at this website.

Still want to write? I mean it this time? let's get to it. Below are things to do, and some things to think about whenever you're in the process of writing your lyrics.

The Initial Draft

Let yourself relax so that you're in a frame of mind where the words are flowing and coming out naturally. People can tell when you forced yourself to write, (in your early days of writing anyway). Also, don't think that rhyming is an absolute necessity. If you write something, which sounds okay to you, then don't ruin the lyrics by putting in unnecessary rhymes. Whilst writing the initial draft of the lyrics, try to let everything spill out onto the page. Don't get technical, don't worry about flow, and don't try to rhyme. You can do all these things when editing. The most important thing is that you express yourself, and hold nothing back. This is your time, imagine no one else can hear you, speak your mind, and be completely open.

Editing

Maybe you've thought of a metaphor, which will communicate a certain emotion contained within the lyrics? Well, try and find a place for it in the lyrics, (but don't force it), where it will be most powerful. Maybe at the bridge, because sometimes this can be a good point in the lyrics where the writer reflects on how he feels as opposed to telling you. The editing process if possibly the most important part of lyric writing, because it is when you organise your emotions in the most striking way you can find. By that I mean that you try to craft your lyrics into something that a lot of other people will be able to understand. And it should touch them on a thoughtful, emotional or spiritual level.

Finished

Now that you have finished writing this particular set of lyrics, I think you should get some comments on the. If you show your lyrics to people, or post them, and get lots of negative criticism, please understand that you will progress as a writer. Everyone can develop the skill of writing, but sometimes it takes longer than usual depending on the individual. If you want to speed up the development of your talent, then you can go onto the forum and critique some lyrics. You may think I'm just trying to get you onto the lyrics forum, and helping people but?well yes I am actually. But what I mean is, if you analyse other people's lyrics, you will find our how a good set of lyrics is created. That's the whole point of the articles that go up in the lyrics forum bi-weekly. People take the time out to analyse how a specific artist writes lyrics, and then gives their article gets posted so that everyone can benefit. But it will be the authors of the articles who benefit the most, because they are the ones who put in the effort.

Closing Comments

I hope this article was helpful, and maybe it inspired you to start writing, or maybe it will help you improve your writing. But if you do take up this trade of the ages, pass it on to others. Pick up a pen; be creative and be original. Get writing? I wish you good luck with your lyrics. If you have any comments, complaints, queries, suggestions for lessons or even tips of your own, then just e-mail me or PM them to benjmc. Feedback is always encouraged and appreciated.

96 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Another_Idiot
    This guy says alot of helpful shit listen to him oh and if ur in a punk band Plzz i repeat plzz dont write songs only about break-ups or about how u love some bitch like over and over again, That is ruining punk thats y i hate EMO and lots of pop punk bands, they keep writing songs bout love and break-ups over and over to the point im gonna shoot myself, its ok to write a FEW songs about love and break-ups its not cool to write songs ONLY about break-up or love there are a LOT of cool shit to write about like anything fun(SEX DRUGS N ROCKNROLL!!!) it can be about a party about losing ur virginity the first time u got high about being drunk and havin a good old time about a fight about a roadtrip about bein a stoner about doin drugs doin a crime or just having a good time or about political stuff u know OH and also FUCK U UG STRANGER hey dipshit u flooded the comments page with abunch of ***in dumbass stupid annoying comments butt***er. is Anybody here gay? i know this one fag called UG stranger and he likes cock
    emt4life
    best lesson yet! i can't wait until you post another one, this was very helpful. and i would like to leave something for the smart asses out there. not everyone is as awesome as you.believe it or not you'll need help with something one day. remember that you didn't always know it all. i've been making music for most of my life and you never stop learning, if your not learning something new then i bet all of your songs sound the same. i wanna thank you benjamen for taking the time to share this. alot of people got from this.
    [NitrateOxide]
    Is it just me that finds it hard to write rhythms to lyrics? Anything I write sounds like a slighty-emo, early-blink 182 rip off...
    LitanY
    How about writing lyrics about writing lyrics "these right words won't come to mind ever since that day open up, let you emotions speak i've been let astray" lol great article
    blind_melon1995
    heres some fresh lyrics "i have sex/ i have sex with my ex/ my ex is not named rex/ so FUCK the cops/ FUCK with mops/ grow some cash crops/ and live freeeee"
    Gwynnell
    And when the bomb went off The angel's heart burned from his tears and sweat worked into the nearby soil and the gorilla wept for the beauty Its really not better than most shit
    RiseAgainstMan
    dude not bad but here is some adivice find a cliff somewhere and leap off hehehe no just playin the article was really helpfull good job keep it up
    singer_johnny90
    ive been writing for about 4 years now, and i find that time makes a good song. give yourself a few days to think about the mood of the song and for good similes/metaphors. throw a few extra lines in there and if you write tabs for it, too, then definitely mess around with those. the more you work on a song, the better it gets. great article! keep it up!
    Jesse Nouveau
    I laugh at those who read this whole lesson, and decide they're going to give it a shot. Then find it's too complex for them and go back to writing the Greenday esque stuff. They then come back and reply to this saying "j00r artical suhked!!11l0l." Heh.
    thehelott13
    excellent work. might i add that the quote "songwriting is like shaping the invisible" is a DaVinci quote
    KnightValor
    Okay, nice, but I can't stress enough how easily "metaphorical" can become cheezy. If I wrote a song And when the bomb went off The angel's heart burned from his tears and sweat worked into the nearby soil and the gorilla wept for the beauty I mean, that is actually better than alot of bands do... Anyway, I generally find that numbers, shapes, anything mathematical give better metaphors simply because its much harder for them to be cheesy. 46 & 2 and Lateralus are my two of my favorite songs lyrics wise, one of which is all about a damn spiral and the other is all about two numbers which mean something personal to maynard. It leaves people curious, and if you do it right they'll look it up and go "AWESOME!" The spiral remains a mystery, but 46 & 2 is about evolution - humans have 44 & 2 chromosones, the next step would be 46 & 2 - thus "46 & 2 ahead of me" Whoah I really just unloaded there!
    Fibi
    Good article, useful... But if u wan't to write something you shouldn't follow any rules, just express yourself...
    fretmaster01
    DeAdGiRlSbOyS wrote: Couldnt be bothered to read it all cos its too long but seemed ok. But surely if ur just writing a song, u should just sit down and just write away. Forget bout if it rhymes, or if it flows, or adding metaphors, or adding cool words or big words. Just sit down write the song, doesnt matter how many verses its got. and when ur writing it have the tune in ur head, obviously not every lead guitar solo, but the basic piano or guitar tune. play that in ur head and just write what u hear urself singing in ur head to the music. screw all the methods ppl say u should use. jsut write. its as easy as that.
    yeah... this article, by the way as anyone would figure out, is for the ones who want some help and advices. Like Benj stated, find your own style... and that's an advice i believe you are following.. hehe.. peace...
    SHFJdannymac
    good article, looking for inspiration and motivation to finish some old songs that have yet to see the light of day. The gears are once again turning.
    aceral1715
    WhiteWTHStripes wrote: The best haikou ever, Haikou's are easy, but sometimes they don't make sense Refrigerator
    love the refrigerator bit, really deep I always compose an entire song on guitar pro before I usually start writing lyrics for them. It sort of gives be a guideline for the story and stuff, but that's just the way I do it. Sometimes our band gets the music together and our singer writes lyrics because shes pretty good at it as well.
    megadeth45
    Im a good writer when it comes to everything except song writing i can write a poem with no problem i can write a story or paper they're amazing but my song writing is horrible i feel im too worried about it sounding cool and not putting meaning into it but my usual vocabulary for writing tends to be quite extensive and hard for me to rhyme its like your average person trying to write like dream theater its really frickin hard. this helped me out alot man thanks 10/10
    Metal-McTwist
    Tenacious D wrote: the best way to write, is to get in the kind of mood for your song. ie/get pissed off to write a pissed off song.
    School of Rock. All you bullies get out of my way, cause I am really pissed off! I didn't get no allowance today, and I am really pissed off!
    megadeth45
    SmokinGoodfella wrote: too much SHlT, get to the point quicker next time but hole
    learn how to spell butthole b4 u try to insult someone with t
    Con 91
    Gwynnell wrote: And when the bomb went off The angel's heart burned from his tears and sweat worked into the nearby soil and the gorilla wept for the beauty
    What?
    Homeslice91
    really helped me, cheers. lol at some peoples comments. i can see a few people are having a "time eh the month".
    jamesdjharrod
    nice lesson, and to agree with AnotherIdiot, STOP WRITING SONGS ABOUT BREAK-UPS. And if you have to, at least write them in an entertaining way. Motley Crue for example rarely write about depressin stuff, and theyre awesome
    Sk8rGur7
    awesome. I can't write shit! this might help me tho. I think my brother should read this. hes a writer. honestly, I like his first song, his other stuff just doesn't sink in, ya know? seems like he thinks alot about it, then writes it without actually feeling it