Wednesday, January 5, 2011


These all make me laugh...'cause I'm a hopeless word nerd, I guess.

Excerpts from Successful Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis

Tip #1:  Avoid Mixing Metaphors

"You've got me covered.....but I won't take your bait"

(love is like hunting)........(love is like fishing)

Tip #2  Metaphors- Use Sparingly

Metaphors are like seasoning-not too much of one kind, and not too many different kinds, or you'll over season your verse, like this one:

The past is a drug imprisoning my soul
Regret is a shovel digging a hole
Fear is a master standing over me
Oh, where is the power to set me free?

(According to the book, this is overwriting; what's known as a "purple patch.")

Tip #3  Give your figurative image a figurative set up

Set my course for sunny Spain
Crashed the cliffs off rocky Maine
Mid wind and wave and blinding rain
Won't put foot on land again

Girl you made a wreck of me
I'm doomed to drift my whole life through
I've gone overboard over you

Water here, more water there
Frigid water everywhere
I looked for love and found despair
Love can be so damn unfair


As a song streams by we cautiously sort our what we're currently hearing, what we've already heard, and what we've been led to expect next.  The opening of "overboard" with it's real place names of Spain and Maine, leads us to expect a literal story  So we are jolted by the obviously figurative of the title word in the chorus' opening line.  An effective metaphoric image results from setting it up figuratively and maintaining it figuratively.  To understand this important principle, consider some famous rain = trouble songs- "Stormy Weather," "Raindrops keep falling on my head," "Don't rain on my parade."  The opening line of each song announces it's figurative stance by using it's key words-weather, clouds, rain, sun- in a non literal way.  And all subsequent theme words support the plot's metaphor.  Had the writer sprinkled the opening verse with a few expressions like a stormy time on the sea of love, love boat was shipwrecked, the tides gone out for us, no shore in sight, and so on, then titled the lyric "Man Overboard," he could have steered his song to safe harbor.

(heh heh.)

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