How to Write a Second Verse – Solving Second Verse Curse
Stop getting stuck writing your second verse… second verse curse will never haunt you again!
You’ve finished a brilliant verse and a rocking chorus but you’re blocked. You’re tapped out and there’s left to say. The well is dry and the struggle starts. If you don’t pull something out of the air, it’ll be another unfinished song cluttering up your notebook… dream left to die.
It’s common enough that it’s been named: the second verse curse.
But you can beat it if you know how to solve it. As a bonus, if you understand why it’s happening, you can avoid the problem in the future.
It’s easier than you think… here’s how:
Below the video lesson is a transcript, with bonus ideas and links to other songwriting resources to help you finish the second verse and the rest of your song!
How to Write a Second Verse – Video Transcript
You’ve finished the chorus and the first verse and you feel stuck, you don’t know what else to say. You don’t know what to write about and you start feeling like you won’t finish your song. In this video, I’ll show you how to solve second verse curse and finish your song. Then I’ll show you how to avoid it entirely in the future so you don’t have this problem again.
Hi, I’m Trevor Dimoff, I transform musicians into songwriters at EpicSongWriting.com. Watch the entire video, then click the description link for a transcript of the video and more songwriting help so you follow through on what you learned in the video, instead of just bouncing to the next YouTube video and forget to try it out!
Getting stuck on your second verse has two components.
1. What do I write about? That is: What do I say? and
2. Exactly how do I write a second verse?
Once we’ve solved them, I’ll explain how to avoid the entire problem in the future…
First two sentences of basic songwriting theory:
The chorus is usually about emotions: what does the song make the audience feel, or what is the singer/narrator of the song feeling.
The verse is where you tell the details of the story.
1: What to Write About in the Second Verse…
For a second verse… you just continue the story. The second verse curse hits you when you don’t have a story figured out. You’re just faking your way through hoping to find some ideas that fall into place. That’s why you got stuck.
To Find Second Verse Ideas…
Continue the story, get further into the action or situation with more details. What happens after the first verse… what’s the rest of the story? If the first verse is the cause, the second verse can describe the effects of the situation.
You can change the angle or perspective, it’s usually most effective to take a closer look at the situation. Get closer to the action and turn it up to make it more intense.
- What other details can you add?
- What’s the next step in the story?
- What are the results of the first verse?
You can repeat the main idea of the first verse and explain it again with different details and imagery, but be sure to advance the story and show more. Otherwise you’re wasting time restating yourself.
You can also consider making the existing verse the second verse and writing a new verse to set up the story. That is, instead of continuing the story, write a new beginning to the story. In movie script writing, it’s common to open the movie with an intense scene to hook the audience, then circle back later to explain what was going on. To use this in technique in songwriting, start your song with a compelling first verse and explain the situation later in the second verse.
I’ve written three or more verses and then edited them down to two verses using the best ideas from each and putting them into the best order for the flow of the story in the song.
If you still feel stuck with the second verse, write out a story in point form so you have an overview of what you’re trying to communicate. Get the plot and the story arc mapped out to organize your thinking.
Think about your first verse and chorus and ask yourself: who, what, where, when, why and how… to get more ideas to continue the second verse.
2: How to Write the Second Verse
Use the first verse as a template. Use the same rhymes scheme, melody and chord progression. If your first verse is already written, the second verse is usually less work because you’ve already made some big creative decisions.
The second verse needs different lyrics, different rhyming words and more story to continue the song.
Because you’ll use the same melody in both verses, the easiest way to actually write the lyrics of the second verse is to use the same accented syllable patterns of the first verse. Typically when you set lyrics to a melody, the accented syllables are higher in pitch and are sung longer than non-accented syllables. Don’t just count your syllables, that’s a lyricist solution that doesn’t always work when you’re writing a melody. I’ve written verses with identical syllable counts that needed different melodies because of different accent patterns.
FIND the ACcented SYLlables by READing the LYRics in an exAGgerated VOICE.
THEN WRITE with a SIMilar ACcent PATtern so the MELody FITS.
As you’re writing the second verse lyrics, match the accent patterns of the first verse. It’s okay to have a few slightly different syllable counts. You can add or remove a syllable here and there and still sing them with the same melody.
Even if it isn’t perfect, finish a draft of the verse. You can always go back and adjust the verses to match the same melody in a later draft. Don’t get stuck thinking you have to write a finished draft on the first go through. You can always tweak details later. Write a draft with a song mostly done and then improve it through later drafts.
3: How to Avoid Second Verse Curse in the Future
Plan your songs before you get deep into the songwriting process. I brainstorm ideas and lyric phrases before I finish writing the first song section. I’ll start with a song inspiration or idea and have a little fun with it. But then I get busy mapping out the plot of the song with a song sketch. I start with the big idea or title, and figure out the story I want to tell. Then, I decide what I’ll write about in the chorus, the verses and pre-chorus and the bridge before I write them. It sounds boring because you don’t get to immediately dive in, find the flow and write lyric lines… that’s the fun part.
But it’s much faster when I already have a song framework figured out. There’s no wondering what to write about or wracking your brain struggling for ideas. When I brainstorm lyric fragments, I can easily decide which song section they’ll fit. I’ll take a page of brainstormed ideas, find the best phrases and quickly sort them… “that’s a chorus idea” “that’s a line for verse 1” “That fits the second verse,” “That’s for the bridge.”
There’s no struggle when you’ve created a plan to follow!
It channels your creativity and gives you direction; it doesn’t stifle your creativity. A plan provides clarity and lets you avoid creative deadends and wasted time… and most importantly, you don’t end up with wasted songs that you don’t finish.
Do the work and plan out your song instead of getting lost in the songwriting process. Then you don’t waste time rambling around desperately hoping to find your way from the beginning of the song to the end. Creativity rarely works in a straight line.
Writing Your Second Verse: Summary
What to Write About in the Second Verse
The second verse is the continuation of the story you’ve started with the first verse and the chorus. Find more to say by exploring the story you’re telling. Ask yourself the 5W’s: who, what, where, when, why and how. In the second verse, give more details to advance the plot so your audience stays interested and listens to the whole song.
How to Write the Second Verse
The second verse follows the patterns you’ve established in the first verse, using the same rhyme scheme, melody and chord progression. Write lyrics with the same patterns of accented syllables and it will sing to the same melody.
Avoiding Second Verse Problems Forever!
To avoid writing yourself into a deadend, plan out the story you want to tell before you write the first verse. It seems counter-intuitive but a few minutes of planning can save you hours of frustration and makes finishing songs much easier!
Thanks for watching the whole video. I’m Trevor Dimoff, I transform musicians into songwriters at EpicSongWriting.com. Click the link description for more to help you follow through on these ideas, so you actually change your songwriting practice for the better instead of forgetting all these ideas. Once you’ve done that… go write a solid second verse!