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Writing Descriptive Lyrics

It's all in the details!

· Songwriting

When we're writing songs, it's so easy to spend all our time thinking about the broad concepts and forget the little details. But it's those details that make the theme of the song so much more powerful.

You have to remember your listeners don’t have the same context that you do, especially when you're writing about a real life situation.

A hook like “I thought I couldn’t love her more” becomes more impactful if you can get your audience to connect with your relationship. Draw them in with the details of your relationship. Give them the context they need to understand what you’re trying to say.


Imagery is an incredibly powerful tool if you use it well. Close your eyes and visualize the scene you’re trying to create with your song. Start creating the details (even if they’re fictional!). What is the weather like? What are you wearing? What do the people in the scene look like? How are they dressed? Create a complete scene in your mind.

Use the senses

Once you’ve done that, try to think beyond the visual imagery. Use the other four senses: touch, taste, smell, and sound. Are you in a noisy room? Is it cold outside? Is the girl next to you wearing perfume? Is there music playing?

Consider the context

Now let’s take it one step further. What is the context of this situation? Is it a holiday? Is it 8 AM? What city are you in? What street are you driving down? What happened right before this scene? What kind of mood are you in?

As you can see, there are endless questions you can ask yourself about any situation, so try to dig as deep as you can.

Narrow it down

Now you’re probably thinking “Geez, I’m not going to write a 500 page novel about a 5 minute interaction!” And you’re right. That’s why you need to narrow it down to the best and most important details.

Think about Harry Potter for a second. Something I’ve always found fascinating about J.K. Rowling is that she created an insane amount of back-story for every single character in her fictional world. She had boxes and boxes of unused material that didn’t even make it into the original series. Every single detail of her fictional world was planned in advance.

So be J.K. Rowling. Write out every single detail. And then take a step back. Decide what’s most relevant to the point you’re trying to make. Then narrow it down to the imagery that will give your song the most impact.

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