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benjamin
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« on: January 13, 2015, 09:32:00 AM »

Hej guys,

I got some trouble writing lyrics. After reading Pat's book (starting now with the 2nd time), spilling money on lessons,... I still don't get further than 2 good lines (sometimes one verse).
Here's how I work. I jam for minutes/ hours on a guitar and got a great melody, start singing on it and mostly I've got a great first sentence. Then I find another one that fits the first very good. But when I try to write further it don't got any impact or there is no story behind it or I can't think a story for it like the example below.

An example I work on:
I've been dreaming of a thousand jellybeans.
I reward myself for being good not mean.

I love those two sentences, what now?
I'm feeling seriously desperate, I've got this problem for years.
Someone out there who got the same problems or had? Someone who got tips for me?

Thanks in advance!

Cheers
Benjamin
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Paul
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2015, 02:55:30 PM »

Benjamin, I was just at a seminar with Pat the other night and a similar question came up. I think in the first instance you might need to define what it is you want o say. Sure a great guitar riff and a hooky beat are great and can sometimes inspire an idea, but I reckon it needs to be grounded in something. So are there any social or personal issues that are pushing your emotional buttons? Are you concerned about global warming or the hunting of whales or simply that that cute girl I like doesn't seem to notice me? It seems you are letting the music drive the lyrical bus, whereas I think Pat might say first get down some lyrical ideas- through either doing object writing on your subject and then maybe pulling phrases or words out and go from there. Are you starting your song with a title line- as this is a great place to build ideas from. Hopefully that's a few ideas to launch from?
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Paul
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2015, 03:04:46 PM »

Here's what you might do with your current two sentences:

I've been dreaming of a thousand jellybeans.

you have two things to launch from here 'dreaming' and 'jellybeans'
'
Dreaming is an internal state and a jelly bean is a thing

I reward myself for being good not mean.
[this is an internal thought]

If the title of your song were 'a Thousand jelly beans' I would write an object writing on that for starters
 
you could write about how jelly beans taste sweet and juicy like a perfect orange how they are a little hard on the outside but soft in the middle [that could be a metaphor] in fact what if you sang about a love object and compared her quality's to a jelly bean.

Yeah. I like you,
I know you're all soft in the middle
but when we meet up I just get the hard shell.... etc
your a jelly bean baby, yeah yeah
 a jelly bean

Dreaming- describe the sensations floating, fuzzy, our of focus, crazy maybe that's how you feel about the love object of your song?

What does it feel like to be rewarded? Do you feel warmth, a glow, satisfaction, happiness....... you just need to expand your idea or title line to find lyrics.

A tip:  DO NOT WRITE LYRICS WITH THE INSTRUMETN IN YOUR HAND. That's what I do anyway..... get the rough lyric ideas first then polish with the instrument in your hand.

another tip: every song is practice , don't be too precious, occasionally a diamond will erupt from your meanderings. Keep the diamonds they are yours.
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Paul
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2015, 02:32:41 AM »

Just by way of an example of what I am saying I have just spent fifteen minutes brainstorming on 'balloon' as this is in a title of a song I am working on
here's my  list of ideas from which I might be able to derive some verses and a story.....

Bright colours
Deep yellows
Rich reds
verdant blues
Rubbery feeling
Tight skinned
feel it expanding
lungs are burning
feeling dizzy
need more oxygen
laughing gas
helium
speaking in a high voice
clowns tie them up
they can be made into animals etc
Let loose in the sky
Transparent
Primary colours
Celebrations
Happiness
A rainbow of colour
Looking up overhead
Smiling happy faces
Hot air balloons hanging in the sky

Hanging onto a string
Childish joy
Empty and flaccid when deflated- impotent
Cheeks all puffed out
It grows bigger and bigger
Bulging eyes
Children’s parties
Clowns
Multicolored raincoats
Basket hanging underneath
Letting the burner go
Feeling scary up so high
The world looks fantastic  from up here
Hot air
Flames shooting upwards
Burning off gas
Staying afloat
Floating pimples on the air
Deflated balloon is wrinkled
An old persons face

Tiny pin super sharp
Blown up too tight
The weather can make them pop
Sounds like an explosion
Short sharp crack
A rifle shot
A surprise a shock
Makes you jump
Ears ring afterwards when they burst
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benjamin
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2015, 06:41:50 AM »

Wow Paul
Thanks a lot for all the tips, I'll try them out immediately!


All tips are welcome.
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Gollun
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2015, 07:30:14 AM »

Paul has a point with regards to the descriptive parts of your text.

Now if you want to tell a story (instead of series of descriptions), well, a good story is usually about a character who has a well defined goal and there is strong oposition against it.
So, if you want to tell a story that starts with:
"I've been dreaming of a thousand jellybeans.
I reward myself for being good not mean."
Try to define what is your goal and what is hampering it. When you reach the chorus (that carries the music message), either increase tension (adding new elements that complicate the drama) or satisfy us (either giving us hope or actually showing how did you achieve your objective, even though there was strong oposition). Make us care about your character by showing his unique qualities.
If you need a new verse, follow Pat's suggestions: change point of view, change time, practice constructive repetition, etc.

Some nice stories have an internal goal (a need... for instance: to love) and an external goal (for instance, making money) that conflicts with this internal goal (your external goal is the strong oposition against your internal goal). That might set a good story too.

Can I suggest you a book? Read the Screenwriter's Bible
http://www.amazon.com/Screenwriters-Bible-6th-Complete-Formatting-ebook/dp/B00JLTHHVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421242410&sr=8-1&keywords=screenwriters+bible

Of course it's not about music, but your problem is not a musical one. It might help.
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Gollun
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2015, 07:37:51 AM »

I believe there is a close relationship between musics and scenes. A music, when it is a narrative one, shows us one or a few scenes.
That's why it's kinda useful and interesting to understand how scenes work and how they relate and change to other scenes.
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Gollun
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2015, 07:39:34 AM »

And how to keep the story moving on the semantic/story level (not only on the musical/metrical level).
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Paul
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2015, 01:05:46 PM »

Excellent summary on what a storyline can be Gollun and some good ideas to follow up on. I think Andrea Stolpe talks about similar song plot ideas.
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benjamin
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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2015, 08:50:06 AM »

I'll try that book out you suggest me.
Both of you gave some great tips, really.
Thanks a lot!

What I was thinking I could do: using jelly beans as a synonym. "Dreaming of cd's, dreaming of guitars, vinyls, candles, gifts,…" And then rewarding yourself with one.
Could this be a good start? Or is this for the listener to far-fetched?
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Gollun
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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2015, 09:31:01 AM »

I'm brazilian. I'm not dealing with my mother language, so I may be wrong...
But seems a little hermetic to me.
I feel this metaphor needs to be grounded (as Pat recommends) in the context in order to be used as a synonym.
First, you must convice us that jellybeans = goods, this is when you risk becoming far-fetched.

Maybe you could tell us that when you were a child, you used to ask gifts to your parents mostly because they always contained a pot of jellybeans the wrapping paper.
And now, as a grown up, you became a shoppaholic (you're addicted to packages) and still dream of a thousand jellybeans.

Optimally, I think you'd create an ambiguous situation in which your jelly beans can mean exactly what they mean plus other things.
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benjamin
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2015, 11:47:00 AM »

I think I need to read that book you suggested me, hoping it'll clarify things like this.
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benjamin
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« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2015, 01:12:05 PM »

Now that I was searching for the book, I also found the Andrea Stolpe 10 steps to effective lyric writing.
Which would you suggest me, the screenwriters bible or the Andrea Stolpe?
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Gollun
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« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2015, 03:35:18 PM »

Which Pat Pattison book did you read? He has several ( http://www.amazon.com/Pat-Pattison/e/B001KMFZ02/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1421359394&sr=1-1 ).

If you read Writing Better Lyrics, you probably won't feel very satisfied by Andrea Stolpe's book.

She is not as insightful as Pat (and they frequently use similar concepts and treat similar issues, so you can't stop comparing one to the other) and she focuses too much on an aspect of the lyrics that she calls "Internal Detail". She argues that sometimes you should TELL, not only SHOW, and she teaches you some good spots for TELLING (what I mean by telling is creating text that is strong but doesn't provoke your senses).

I think the most important lesson you can take from Andrea Stolpe is that you don't have to be ALWAYS using sensebound language.

But if you didn't read Writing Better Lyrics, go for it. Pat summarizes his and her ideas and says "You can TELL, but you have to SHOW first".

If you did read Writing Better Lyrics, but still have plot issues, I think the Screenwriter's Bible is a better choice for your moment.
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benjamin
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2015, 06:18:43 AM »

I've read Writing better lyrics from Pat.
I'll go for screenwriters bible and hope it'll do a lot for me.
THANKS
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