Plan Your Song Part 2 – Outlining

I can’t remember the number of times I’ve sat down in the past with a line in my head that I thought would work well for a song and just started writing. I’ve inevitably hit the proverbial (and yet somehow very real and often visited) wall of solid brick.


This was because I didn’t really know what the song was about or what it was trying to say. I just had a line and a semblance of an idea.

This is why it’s so important to plan – a great line is a wonderful thing – write it down – but be sure to give it a point and some context!

Of course, the more great lines the better, so after you’ve brainstormed and generated a load of ideas to work from, it’s time to plan your song. Sketch out what you want to say in your song and manoeuvre that into a structure. Of course this might work the other way round, too. For example, a very general one could go something like this:

  • Verse 1 – set the scene
  • Verse 2 – introduce the character(s)
  • Pre-chorus – lead into/set up the main point of the song
  • Chorus – main point of the song
  • Verse 3 – Additional information
  • Pre-chorus – as above
  • Chorus – as above.

This process of deciding what you want to say and where you want to say it really helps focus what is hopefully a tumbling mass of ideas from your brainstorming session when you come to writing lyrics. It might also generate further ideas to explore.

If you are interested in reading more about songwriting, I highly recommend this book by Jason Blume – Six Steps to Songwriting Success. It gives loads of great examples to help with research and, hopefully he won’t mind me borrowing this, points out that while there are no rules to writing songs there are guidelines. It’s worth learning them before breaking them!

Anyway, at this point you’ve hopefully got lots of ideas to work with as well as a plot and a structure. This can make writing lyrics that much easier – more on this next time! Not to mention I can feel a video of a new song of mine on the horizon…