A Solution For Aimless Lyrics: The One-Sentence Summary

An aimless lyric, as the term implies, is one that keeps changing its direction, so it’s hard for an audience to get a handle on what the song is actually about.

It’s a common problem in lyric writing. If your own lyrics seem aimless, that’s usually because you’ve spent a good amount of time getting the actual mechanics of the lyric working, but you’ve neglected the important first step: choosing a distinct topic.

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Here’s a simple solution for curing the problem of an aimless lyric: Write a one-sentence summary of your song.

You can practice this technique by choosing some of your favourite songs, ones for which you know the lyric quite well. Then write a one-sentence summary of what the song is about. If you do that exercise with “Hey Jude”, you’d probably write: We know you’re going through a rough time, but the best strength comes from within, so stay strong.

The point of the one-sentence summary is not to prove that you’ve got a powerful topic that no one else has written about. Pharrell’s song “Happy” is simply about being happy no matter what life throws at you. That’s not poignant or powerful, in and of itself. But as you read through the lyric, you’ll notice that the lyric is focused on being happy. It doesn’t stray, and it doesn’t try to introduce some other point of focus.

So if you’re finding that your lyrics seem to be all over the map, stop what you’re doing and write a one-sentence summary of what you want your song to be about.

Then take a look at the lyric you’ve written, and I’ll bet you’ll start to see lines of lyric that stray off the intended path.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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