Amazing Kids! Magazine

Writer’s Tips – How to Write Song Lyrics

By Sean Traynor, Editor-in-Chief

Do you love to write stories and also love to listen to music? Why not try writing lyrics to a song? While there are no set rules for writing song lyrics, there are some basics that will help get you started. The key thing to remember is that a song should express your thoughts and feelings and reach other people in a way that makes them feel something deeper or understand something better.

A song expresses thoughts and opinions of the songwriter and brings about emotions in the listener. A song can show the most intense emotions that life has to offer in just a few minutes of listening time. Many people think that because songs are short, they are easy to write. In fact, because the lyrics for songs are short, they must be creative and clear to tell your story. This makes them difficult to write.

The first thing to do when writing song lyrics is to think about who you’re writing to – who is your audience. Writing for kids may include silly, upbeat with a catchy phrases, while writing for adults may include more mature themes like falling in love or may include complex symbolism.

Next map out what story or theme you want to bring out in the words. By writing it out in a story format, you’ll see the main theme which will become your chorus and the other points or progression of the story which will be your verses. Pull out key phrases and include them.

Design your structure of your song. A common song structure is: verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / chorus.

This form provides enough repetition to feel familiar and enough variety to keep the listener interested.

Here are some useful definitions for understanding song structure:

Verse: The verses in a song all have the same melody but different lyrics. The verse lyrics tell the situation, emotions, or people in the song.

Chorus: The chorus of a song may be repeated within the song three or more times. The lyric and melody remain the same each time. The chorus lyrics sum up the heart of the song. The title of the song almost always appears in the chorus section.

Bridge: The bridge has a different melody and lyrics from the verse or chorus. It provides a break from the repetition and reveals an insight or important moment.

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Begin with the chorus. This is the main theme of the song that must make sense when coming back to it in between verses. It connects one verse to the next. Usually from the chorus, you’ll find your title to the song – something that is repeated over and is catchy.

Then you move on to the first verse. This verse draws attention to your song to make the audience want to listen. There are a few ways to start the first verse.

Main theme or focus of the song – Beginning with the main theme or focus of the song will set the tone and problems that will be completed by the end of the song. The Taylor Swift song “You Belong to Me” begins with “You’re on the phone with your girlfriend, She’s going off about something you said, Cause she doesn’t get your humor like I do.” The song immediately shows that it will lead you through why the boy should be with the singer.

Attention Grabber – This type of opening tells the audience something that will make them want to hear more. For example, in the song “The Cat Came Back” it begins, “Old Mr. Johnson had troubles of his own, He had an old yellow cat that wouldn’t leave home, He tried and he tried to give the cat away, He gave it to a man who was going far away, but, The Cat came back the very next day…” Don’t you want to hear the rest of the song?

Tell It All – Say exactly what is coming next. For example, in Miley Cyrus’ song “Party in the USA” she tells the story. It begins immediately with, “I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan, Welcome to the land of fame, excess, whoa am I gonna fit in? Jumped in the cab, here I am for the first time, Look to my right and I see the Hollywood sign.”

The second and third verses continue to build the story, just like in a book explaining the action and conflict without too much detail. The fourth verse is the conclusion which leaves the listener with a feeling of completion. Just like in a story, your lyrics should build to a climax, ending with a resolution to the story. The four verses with the refrain in between should run about three minutes. You may have to write it out fairly detailed first, then cut, cut, cut.

Once your story is written out, divide them into lines with fairly consistent beats in each line. This prevents it from sounding choppy.

Go back and change these lines so the endings somewhat rhyme. “Almost rhymes” are okay such as time/mine or love/enough. It is important to have the story first and then add the rhymes or the song won’t flow.

Reread and edit your lyrics again until they really flow. Now you’re ready to put music to your lyrics. If you’ve conveyed your theme and story well, music that will complement the mood you’re trying to convey will be easy to identify. If not you can always find a composer to put your words to music. Have fun writing your first song. You’ll be able to determine your success by what emotions you bring out in your audience. It can be a powerful and rewarding type of writing.

17 comments

  1. Bola_trendy /

    very nice article… it’s educative…

  2. Jolie /

    I love this website

  3. cool I will try again

  4. Emily /

    Really helped but it would be better if you had included an example!

  5. dnayzah /

    explain allot

  6. This really helps

  7. Aaliyah /

    wonderful !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THNX xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  8. NEED AN EXAMPLE PLEASE!!!

  9. daisha /

    Hey thanks for the tips

    • jordynd dorr /

      i am really good at writing a song

  10. lory-chama /

    llllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttttttttt.

  11. lory-chama /

    I really like this

  12. vanessa /

    it is really easy to do and thank u

  13. justine /

    thanks soooooooooooo much for this.
    really helps!

  14. Works vry well thx

  15. jordan /

    thank you this is very clear instructions and they work!