Writing a letter is not easy. It represents a particular view of a life situation. Some produce reflection, some encourage action, and some are simply tongue twisters for the common brain.
Whatever the goal of a letter, there are basic rules to improve its writing. Many artists have spread the idea that any message is valid if it sells the song.
A good tune can put you in the highest Charts for a few months, but a good lyric can stay alive for decades.
Would anyone question the depth of José Alfredo Jiménez’s “Si nos dejan”, the musical simplicity of John Lennon’s Imagine, or the intensity of the “Llorona”?
If you want to write better lyrics, take into account the 10 most common mistakes when writing lyrics. I’m talking about topics that we consider to be a product with a commercial Music Business approach, setting aside popular cultural expressions where natural vision is preserved.
Letters that use words that are too busy in other subjects: Extremely common in today’s commercial music. The phrase “I love you more than my life”… “You are the air I breathe”… “I couldn’t live without you”, they work as excellent hooks to a song.
Although they may evoke a feeling, they reflect a poverty of language both for those who write it and for those who listen to it. Beautiful music has been devalued by the poverty of content in its lyrics. You are what you sing.
Coherence of themes with the singer: A 14-year-old boy talking about true love is as credible as listening to Juan Gabriel sing about democracy.
The direct relationship between the song theme and its performer is the key to pursuing the desired effect. It’s a pity that songs like “Te quedó grande la mare” have more attention in this sense than promising artists.
Overly personal themes: If you talk about that beautiful corner where you have sat to mourn the loss of a love, under the eucalyptus tree that you painted blue as a child, maybe you won’t connect with anyone.
It’s not that they are bad subjects, but if you want them to be better received, then take them out to a more obvious place or use more concrete references.
Put the hook in the right place: There are songs that have a specific name and never mention the phrase, not even spoken. People expect to find the phrase that makes sense at some point.
It seems basic, but believe me, it happens too much. If the song is called “Personal Guardian,” make sure it’s in the right place so you don’t get confused with an attack dog or worse, a local police or judicial officer.
Temporary location moves too much: There are themes that go back and forth from the present to the past, turn twice to the future, and return to time in a parallel dimension.
If you tell a story it’s okay to add surprise, but be sure to use a guiding element that is tangible. If you are in the present, talk about the future. If you are in the past, move on to the present. It may be the other way around, but don’t abuse that line too much.
Redundar en el uso de la persona: There is no more poverty of reading and writing in letters than adding phrases like “You told me you loved me”… “I told her I needed her”… “Come to me, I am waiting for you”… “Kill me because I’m dying”…
And the list goes on and on… They usually occur to fill the phrasing of the melody and the laziness of thinking in deeper lyrics. They are real mental twisters disguised as philosophy and null meaning.
Verses and choruses that don’t fit in words: It’s okay to go out in a well-justified phrase to extend the capacity of the melody, but when you have an adventurous Arjona style revolt (without foundation) then you’re in serious trouble.
Regardless of the genre you write, making the subject more understandable and permanent has to do with this adjustment between what you write and the music that accompanies it.
Use the same word or force the rhyme: Sometimes finding words that close the idea is hard to find and there are lyricists who use a previous word. If you have the close, then modify the topic entry.
Remember that the rhyme has multiple variants that you can take advantage of. If it doesn’t fit, try developing the theme into the new idea that resolves the controversy in the letter. An example might be “Under Pressure” in the middle where the topic drops before Freddie Mercury’s scream.
Forced lyrics from the beginning: Not all lyrics can be converted into song! Some lyrics can be used for small topics in passing. They work very well on concept discs. If your lyrics or idea cannot go beyond a few paragraphs, you are closer to “Chuchuwa Wa Wa” or “La Vaca” than something deeper.
The sample of the little effort to rewrite or revise a letter until its best version: An experienced view in the analysis of letters, can identify from the first paragraphs the failures of writing in a topic.
This eye cannot be fooled by the absence of inspiration in texts of poetry, literature and musical extension. It’s like wanting to hide an elephant behind a stick. Writing, reading, rewriting, getting inspired, rewriting, reading and doing it as many times as you need to make a huge difference.