Today, I decided to take some time out to answer a couple of them.
Up, up, and away…
Question: What’s the story on the lyric triad? What’s it good for?
Answer: The Lyric Triad is a tool I created to make it easy to start writing and keep coming up with ideas whenever I need them.
I learned about “object writing” from Pat Pattison at Berklee. His book, Writing Better Lyrics, shows you how to do it. You write about any object using sensory details for a limited time. That’s it. Pretty easy. But it gets you thinking about sensory descriptions which bring your writing to life.
Then, Andrea Stolpe taught me how to do object writing a little differently. Instead of choosing an object, choose a place and describe the external sensory details plus your internal details (your thoughts and feelings). Adding these extra nuances to object writing got me thinking…
I’ve seen that pattern before. Where was it?
My Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner training! (Geek Alert) I became an NLP Master Practitioner in 2004. I used it to study peak performance for myself and my students and coaching clients. An extensive section of the training was on meta-programs. Meta-programs are patterns that you can find in your thinking.
Without going into a ton of detail, a significant chunk of the meta-programs training was on “categories of experience.” The three categories are Content, Representational Systems, and Neuro-Logical Levels. In regular people terms: stuff, senses, and thoughts.
Content is the stuff you write about. There are six classifications of content. Representational Systems are your senses, and there are six of them. Neuro-Logical Levels are categories of thinking and, you guessed it, there are six of them (I explain them all with detail in the Speed Songwriting System).
I thought to myself, why not expand on what Pat and Andrea do? Instead of using just an object or just a place, I can choose from any of the six types of content. And when I want to describe any of the six types of content, I can use all six categories of sensing and all six categories of thinking! How can you get blocked when all you have to do is describe something in a dozen easy ways? You can’t!
I started coming up with better lines, and whenever I needed a lyric, I could come up with something instantly. I even had a set of virtual dice programmed so I could make a game out of it (this is available in the Speed Songwriting System too).
That’s how I came up with the lyric triad. Of course, there are other excellent uses for it, like lyric triad patterns, but I’ll save that for another day.
The bottom line, here’s why it solves writer’s block: The lyric triad gives you something to write instantly, and it gives your writing detail, depth, and drama, without ever being at a loss for words.
If you’ve ever suffered from writer’s block, the lyric triad will cure it.
Question: Do other songwriters use song plots?
Answer: I’m not sure whether other writers consciously think of song plots or not. I know some do. And I can point to lots of major hits that follow the same pattern as this song plot:
Verse: How things are
Chorus: How I wish things were
Just that little plot can give your song sections contrast and a place to go.
You can also switch it up and add a prechorus:
Verse: How I wish things were
Prechorus: Is there hope?
Chorus: How things are
So if other songwriters aren’t using song plots, I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe they don’t know.
My favorite song plot is called “The Hero’s Journey Song Plot,” and I share it in the Speed Songwriting System.