How To Write Amazing Second Verses – Escape From Second Verse Hell – Pt. 1

Second verse – a curse worse than a burnt MRSA in your bursa?

In his book, Writing Better Lyrics, Pat Pattison says that one of the biggest challenges songwriters face is the second verse curse.  This could apply to any creative person whose art uses time: filmmakers, authors, instrumentalists and others.  I want to explore some of his ideas in one place so we can fix this disease once and for all.

Most writers make the most intense idea the first thing they jot down.  That’s fine but to kick off this series on Writing Amazing Second Verses I want to utilize our natural foibles and turn them into assets.  This week we’ll use the technique of Writing The Second Verse First.

It’s a common strategy, really:  “Begin with the end in mind.” The Secret, visualization and perhaps other techniques use this.  Or maybe you’re familiar with the mixing trick of starting with the loudest, or most important, part of the song and then working backwards.  Similar to sewing a pillow, you don’t initially work on the part everyone sees first.

What I’m saying is that, since we pour our hearts out without a second thought – and that can be scary to some people (I should know), you need to first extend your hand before anyone can see your heart on your sleeve.

Whatever you write first will actually go later in the song.  Let’s look at an example:

In my video I use the impromptu lines:

Melting into your eyes

Halo white at the altar

That just popped off the top of my head.  It’s not necessarily a good way to start a song.  Where would I go from there – the divorce?  Maybe we should talk about the first time our character saw their love interest:

Trembling under my book

Hunting woman is stalking

So now we’re at the library.  The guy is reading, a hot chick walks in and he’s got a choice to make.  Since we’ve started with the second verse we know he’s going to talk to her.  All you’ve got to do is connect the dots from here – the path is clear!

So go forth, young poet, and poureth out thine soul.  Just be sure to add a preamble and you’ll be good to go.

I really recommend Pat’s book Writing Better Lyrics.  It’s helped me immensely.  He also has a free course on Coursera which is a great supplement to the book’s content.

Thanks for reading guys.  Please pick up that book as it helps me and it will certainly help you.  Besides, if you follow along with my articles it’ll help to have that as a reference – like a textbook.  Check out my video on this topic on YouTube, subscribe there if you haven’t and have a wonderful fuckin’ day 🙂

-m