Guitar and paper for songwriting

Got Great Lyric Ideas, But No Story?

Let’s say you find yourself in a situation where some catchy lines of lyric, or some great word combinations, have been rolling about your mind, but you don’t have a story or song topic that helps knit those lines or words together.

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It may seem backwards to come up with a topic as a secondary part of the lyric-writing process, but I think you’d find that that’s relatively common amongst many songwriters. It’s not unusual at all to find a great line, and then go looking for a reason for that line’s existence.

And if that’s the circumstance you find yourself in, here are some ways to take that line and make a fuller lyric out of it:

  1. Create word lists that start with your chosen line. Let your imagination run a bit: think about what might cause someone to say that line, or what situation might cause that line.
  2. Try writing a short story in which your chosen line appears. Creating a story is a vital part of giving a randomly created line some purpose.
  3. Find rhyming lines. Don’t worry if the lines you’re coming up with don’t have a lot to do with your original line or combination of words. Just find the rhythm of your line, and see what you can create that seems to partner up with it. The more you can come up with, the better.
  4. Look through previous unfinished songs. You never know… something you’ve written in the past may be the song that your new line has been looking for.

It’s a great idea to keep a notebook (real or digital) of these kinds of lines. Your creative mind likely has an instinct for finding cleverness and creativity with words, and it’s a shame if something that is attention-getting or otherwise imaginative might get tossed, simply because you don’t have a song (yet) for it to live in.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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