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Write less but say more

Ever listen to someone, wishing they would get to the point?




It’s worse if your song takes too long…


You just lost a listener…


and most people are too polite to tell you…


They just won’t like your song.



I’ve done this…

  • intro that’s more than 10 seconds,
  • the killer second verse, that should be first verse
  • second verse that doesn’t continue the story…


or the worst…


I was “over writing”

  • Too many words!
  • too many syllables in a line…
  • information overload

Can’t remember them

Can’t sing them

and they won’t like your song….


My most memorable A-ha,

Reading lyrics of a classic song, I’ve known forever

Seeing the words on a page…

2 verses (1st repeated for 3rd verse) and chorus

Less than a third of the words in my latest song…

Oops 🙂

My next song “Need Your Love” only 3 words in the chorus

(listen here)


My take away:

Noticing visual patterns in other lyrics improved my writing!


I learned something by seeing the lyrics instead of listening!

The Solution


Finding the great lyrics means leaving some good lyrics out


Write less but say more

Use fewer, better words


Look at it this way

A song is typically 3-5 minutes…

3 verses x 4 lines, chorus, possible bridge…

call it 20 lines max

one page typed


Accept that

You have more to say than space/time permits


You will write other songs



Read Song Lyrics: Action Step

  • Look at lyrics of songs you love, read the lyrics in print
  • Look for patterns, same or different, in your songs
  • What do you notice?
  • How can you change your song?


Compress Lyrics: Action Step

  • Pick a verse that needs rewriting
  • Remove every little word (and, the, I…), listen to hear how it improves the flow
  • Circle phrases that use more than 5 words… find new phrases with fewer words
  • Compress your lyrics, eliminating extras.


Stretch Rhythms: Action Step

  • Pick a verse that needs rewriting
  • Stretch the vocals, double the length of each phrase, or some phrases

ex: use 2 bars instead of 1, use 4 bars instead of 2

I have fixed many lyrics by slowing them down while keeping the same tempo.


Change the Tempo: Action Step

  • record yourself playing and singing your song at many tempos
  • best speed for fastest vocal sections is usually best speed for the whole song


Burn and Rebuild: Action Step

  • Pick a verse that needs rewriting
  • Use one sentence to describe the verse
  • Ignore the original verse
  • Try different images to tell your story
  • Try different word rhythms and accent patterns
  • Create a new verse

(wrote this post three different ways before this draft)



Song writing is more compact, fewer words to express your story:

  • Make every word count
  • Pace yourself, and your words
  • Cut unnecessary words
  • Cut good lines to get to the great lines…Get to the point!


Comment below (then go google the lyrics)

What songs are your first picks to compare to your lyrics?


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