Writing a great song can be difficult work. You want to keep your listeners engaged from the opening line to the final chord. A hook comes, a fresh perspective on a timeless idea. You’re inspired and the creativity is flowing. You can feel a great song coming to life and that energy and excitement carries you all the way through a verse and a chorus. Then it hits: the second-verse-curse. It happens to everyone who has ever tried to write a song but there are ways to work through it or even avoid it altogether. Here are some tips when you’re stung by the 2nd verse curse.
1. Outline your song at the beginning of your writing process.
Song outlining gives you the chance to explore several directions before you start committing to structure and rhyme options. Try a variety of ways to approach the Big Idea of your chorus or tell the story and then move the pieces around until they have the greatest impact.
2. Force yourself to think linearly (the way listeners hear a song).
If your chorus answers the big question “So What?” your second verse must answer the question “Now What?” Your second verse should be both a response to the chorus and re-approach the big idea of the chorus. It is the next chapter in the story. The second verse must add new information to the story. A great second verse simultaneously moves the listener forward and makes them long to hear the chorus again. It also reflects a deepened understanding. “Now that the Big Idea has been revealed, how must I think or feel differently in response to it?”
3. You might have already written your second verse.
Now that we’ve established the linear development of your song, consider this; If you have started your writing with the hook or even the whole chorus first, you may have inadvertently written your first verse as a response to the chorus. Or you might have written your first verse based on where you know (as the writer) the story is going. Try using the first verse you wrote as a second verse and re-approaching the first verse with a fresh perspective. Ask yourself, if I didn’t know the chorus was coming, what would be the first chapter of this story.
4. You might have overwritten your first verse.
Look at the narrative content of the first verse. Are their multiple characters, multiple perspectives, multiple points of action? If you’re struggling to find direction for your second verse it could be that you’ve poured too much content into your first verse. Try removing some ideas or characters and wait to introduce those pieces in your second verse.
5. Try a Change of POV.
This one is less common and requires the skill of a deft lyrical craftsman. A duet often walks this road. Introduce a new character to give us a new perspective on the chorus when it repeats. This option might only work 1 out of 10 times but maybe NOW is that time. Give it a try.
Don’t settle for a mediocre second verse. You were made in the image of The CREATOR and He deserves your best so dig deep and craft great songs that reflect His beauty and power.
Written by: James Tealy
As a professional songwriter, James’ deep list of cuts includes hit songs recorded by Kari Jobe, Unspoken, Josh Wilson, Chris August, Matt Papa, Abandon, and more than 70 others. For more info and advice from James, visit www.jamestealy.com.