KEYS TO WRITING COMPELLING SONGS
Great actors want to make their acting seem so effortless that it feels they are NOT acting. And great writers have a knack for making a song feel “unwritten”. Remember why you are writing the song. For the audience to “feel” it. So, firstly they need to believe it. If you cannot believe your own song how do you expect your audience to do so?
Bring Something New to the Party. If you study great writers and artists throughout history, you will see a consistent pattern emerge: they were unafraid to incorporate the old with the new, to mix styles together that were not mixed before, and to stretch the boundaries by bringing something new to party. Something new doesn’t necessarily need to be literally new and something that nobody had done, but it needs to be originally from your mind. Whatever you do, for sure, someone, somewhere had done it before, but as long as you don’t know about it and you do it as your original idea and leave your own “signature touch” on it, it will be just nice and there is a good chance it will be going somewhere good.
The Song is King. Often, writers sit down to write after a life event inspires and moves them to express it in a song. But also, they’re so tied to writing the song exactly as it happened in their story that they lose sight of where the song needs to go. The song will reveal its own story. Listen, and it will lead you to places you never thought possible. As a Hall of Fame songwriter once said, ”Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story!” The Song is always King. Yes, most probably a real-life story, either your own experience or something that you heard or read somewhere, is motivating you to write a specific song but remember you are not a historian. You don’t need to EXACTLY describe the whole story and the exact details of it. You can twist it. You can add some points to any part you think is necessary. You are serving the king. Make it the way your song wants you to make it.
Don’t Forget the Listener. Have you ever talked with someone, and you get the feeling they don’t care what you think or feel? They just go on and on about something that happened to them? Songs are a conversation between the writer/singer and the listener. Don’t be guilty of a one-sided conversation. Always keep in mind who you are writing the song for. What are they thinking and feeling when they hear your words and melody?
Improving on What You Have. Study, learn, and master the craft of writing. Nothing gets in the way of emotion moving a listener like technical mistakes. Learning to re-write and edit your songs can take them to the next level. Studying your craft and becoming a better writer is a lifetime journey. The more you master craft, the more consistently you will touch people with your songs. Any single minute you spend of learning more and more about your craft is considered as a great investment in the future of your career. It never is a waste and it’s always great to spend time as much as you can on mastering your skills.
Practice Subtraction Over Addition. Many writers pour their hearts and souls out on paper because they have so much to say. But great, compelling writing lives in the blank spaces. It’s about learning to say the most with the fewest words. Make each word have weight and importance, and realize what you leave out is just as powerful sometimes as what you leave in. Make your words important. When it’s just words and words, they lose their value. Look at it this way, when someone is talking to you nonstop, after a very short while you don’t care about what they say anymore because it’s just too many words and those words push their own value to the lowest possible. Don’t be that guy!
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