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  • Jackie Marx

THE KEY DECISIONS BEFORE YOU BEGIN WRITING YOUR SONG

Updated: Jan 15




From Sheila Davis Workshop (in the 1980s):


CHOOSE GENDER:

Picturing your singer as either a male of a female will give you your lyric greater definition. The lyric may, of course, work well for either gender. Decide before you write.


SELECT A VIEWPOINT:

Will the lyric be set in: 1.) First Person with the emphasis on "I"; 2.) Second Person with the emphasis on "you";

3.) Third Person with the emphasis on "he", "she" or "they".


If your lyric changes viewpoints (which is rare), make it obvious.



DECIDE THE VOICE:

Will the singer be thinking (an interior monologue or monologue) or talking (dialogue)?

  • In 'thinking' lyrics, the singer may be 1.) alone and thinking 2.) with someone and thinking; 3.) addressing an absent person, place or thing; 4.) addressing the collective "you".

  • A 'talking' lyric is a conversation with someone present. Pick one voice and stick with it.

DEFINE THE TIME FRAME

Is your action going on now (present tense), over (past tense) or yet to come (future tense).

DECIDE.


Keep your eye on the clock; if it moves, state it.


SET THE SCENE:

Tell the listener in the first few words of the lyric where the singer's thinking or talking is taking place. Even if the lyric doesn't state where, you should know where.


If the scene changes, show it.


IDENTIFY THE TONE:

Whatever tone (attitude) you're selected--wistful, playful, grateful, spiteful, etc.--set it early and STAY WITH THE INITIAL TONE ALL THE WAY.


PICK THE DICTION:

IS your speaker educated? Street smart? Poetic? Pick one language style and be consistent.


DETERMINE THE STRUCTURE:

Content dictates form. Think about the three basic structures and determine which one best suits your purpose.


BECOME THE CHARACTER:

Believe in the characters and situations you create.

When you do, so will your audience.



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