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Songwriting 101- How To Write A Song That Sticks Out

Updated on February 18, 2016

Song writing requires dedication

To write a great song you have to be prepared to know you will fail a few times before success is reached.
To write a great song you have to be prepared to know you will fail a few times before success is reached.

So you want to be a song writer?

There are several reasons to write your own songs. Maybe you want to use them in your own band or on your own CD release, perhaps you simply want to say you did it, or maybe you want to sell your works to singers and make a living that way. Regardless of what your ambitions are in regards to your song writing endeavors it takes a knowledge of several factors to really get that quality you are looking for when you sit down to pen a song lyric.

Sure there are people out there who just can't seem to write a bad lyric. They sell tons of songs to artists and see major profit from their work, but let's snap back to reality. For most song writers that is not going to happen over night. It takes time to really perfect your craft and decide if this is the lifestyle you want to seek or if it is just a hobby you enjoy. Nothing is wrong with either option.

I hope to provide a little more in depth education in writing songs in this installment of Songwriting 101 than I have in my previous writings on the subject. I can not guarantee you will have a hit song but I will promise you will have a better road map to use to get to that point.

Some sound musical advice.

Let's Get Serious

We have discussed a little bit in previous works the importance of a strong title. Let's face it a song called That Thing Over There just might not grab you quite like the same song called The Gun In The Corner. Titles need to be descriptive but not overly so. Let's explore what I mean by that statement.

A title called She Left Me For Another is much more specific and detailed than She Left me but if we go to far and call it She Left Me For Another Who Had More Money And A Big House we have gone just a few steps to far. Titles are usually what catches a listeners attention and a potential buyers attention and keeps it here for a good amount of time.

Another aspect to consider is if your title is going to also be your hook. This is vital information because if it can't capture attention as a title is most definetly will not do so as a hook either. Song writing means finding words and phrases that connect like a perfect puzzle.

Let's look at a well known song. "Help me Rhonda" by The Beach Boys is a great example of a title that also doubles as a hook. At first the phrase Help Me Rhonda does not seem so impressive but the catch is you automatically want to know what this person wants this individual to help him with so you are hooked into at least giving the song a listen. Than the phrase repeats and becomes almost like a chant and you walk away with help me Rhonda help help me Rhonda stuck in your head. This is a key factor to memorable song lyrics.

This of that when choosing a title for your song.

Sometimes it is best to go the other way!

When choosing roads of words try to create a path not taken before in other songs.
When choosing roads of words try to create a path not taken before in other songs.

Avoiding the common path.

I am not an advocate of cliches and writing what has already been written. Let me elaborate for you. The term baby has been used so many times that is is almost expected to be in every song. Cliches like my heart is broken so I want to die have been over used and have become less and less desired in songs.

I am in no way saying you can't write a hit song if it contains a cliche but I will say it will not come across as original content.

I am also wanting to explain the common roads. Take a phrase like my heart is hurting i could die. 9 out of 10 times the next line will include the word fly, cry, or try. These common rhyme words get a little to abundant and make for songs that sound to much alike with other songs. Try to avoid that trap.

Let's revisit that song lyric.

My heart is hurting I could die. Why not follow up with a different rhyming word? Maybe My heart is hurting I could die seeing you with him is a thorn in my side. It sounds sappy but we have eliminated the common rhyming word and went with a more unnatural rhyme. Side does not actually rhyme per say with die but the sounds are so similar it works out in the end.

Taking this alternative word routes will give you a more original edge.

Developing as a writer.

The final tip for this lesson is a vital one. As song writers we must realize we are writers and the rules of the game that applies to them applies to us just the same if not more so. As writers we want to captivate an audience to explore more of what we have placed on paper. That can be a difficult task for a song writer because there is an added feature present for us.

Our words have to be great but the person singing those words must also have the passion and understanding of them that we the writer did and that can be a trying process to accomplish. When you sit down to write a song start with a brain storming session and separate key points and elements you wish to put in the song.

Divide this info and sort out what is relevant and what is not really needed to be included. Maybe you are writing about a storm that destroyed a home. A line like the winds were howling and trees were broken is great but you may not want to include a line such as it was raining and the wind was blowing. The audience already knows it was a song. You could elaborate like the wind was howling like a wolf in the night rain was pouring down no safety in site. Only use what you can make relevant and helpful to the song.


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    • profile image


      2 months ago

      i am very thankful for this amazingly helpful advice

      i recommend this =]

    • profile image


      18 months ago


    • lorddraven2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Little 

      3 years ago from Wheelwright KY

      Thank you, I am going to try and turn this into a series. I am so glad you enjoyed it.

    • Luna Blue profile image

      Luna Blue 

      3 years ago

      I am excited to start applying some of this to my own writing, thank you for the insight, please continue with more like this!

    • lorddraven2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Little 

      3 years ago from Wheelwright KY

      Thanks for the kind words. I have been writing songs since I was around 13 and I am 34 now so I have had many trial and error situations. I am glad you enjoyed this.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Interesting and helpful advice. I have never sat down and tried to write a song, but have had one of my poems turned into a song, so who knows. If it achieves any success I may be encouraged to actually try my hand at song writing and your advice will be beneficial. Thanks for sharing.


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