Hey! What’s the Big Idea?!
Before one ounce of sweat is poured into a lyric
Before one fragment of a dream is crafted into a melody
You must ask yourself: What’s the big idea?
So many GOOD writers choose a catchy phrase or a profound statement that they read in a book or heard second hand in a conversation and they bet all of their money on that one line. Here are some tips to go from a GOOD to GREAT writer.
1. Your Hook Is Half The Battle
Every songwriting competition or conference I go to I hear the same phrase being thrown around: “Your hook is everything” and everyone nods their head in agreement.
I must now challenge that thinking and say that your hook is only HALF of your battle. How you set up your hook is the other HALF of your battle.
I say many times to the writers I’m mentoring that the line before your hook is just as important as your actual hook is. The line before your hook QUALIFIES and QUANTIFIES what’s ultimately being put on the line.
2. Attack your song from the Right Angle
Your idea must be able to be attacked from multiple angles.
Think of writing a song like you are drawing a box. Your first verse idea is the top line of the box. Its fresh and compelling. Once you hit your chorus (the right side) you have to make a 90 degree turn. What’s the spin on your idea?
Now you are flying right into your second verse (the bottom). You’ve now had to turn another corner and attack your next chorus (the left side) from a different perspective. Now the second chorus means something completely different than the first solely because of the verse leading up to it.
This will lead you to the coveted “AHA!” moment with the listener. The listener can’t see around your corners but they are trusting you and following you around them and ultimately realize that they are seeing your idea in ways they didn't think about before.
The bridge is your one shot at your chorus in one final new way.
Here is where the bridge gets tricky. You should not introduce new plot to the story.
How then can you give a fresh perspective?
Go back to the box analogy. Your two verses and two choruses up to this point complete the box.
You can walk away from your song RIGHT NOW and know that you’ve said enough to complete your thought. Think of your bridge as someone from the outside of your box now commenting on what they see. That is how you can give fresh perspective without introducing new plot to the story.
Note: A bridge is not just stating the chorus in a different way. Let the chorus speak for itself. This is just one chance to set up the chorus to land even harder before the listener moves on to a different song.