An Unspoken Truth To Writing Enticing Lyrics

The secret weapon every singer/songwriter needs right now to pull their audience into their song.

An Unspoken Truth To Writing Enticing Lyrics

Transcript of Episode 012

[00:00:00] Hey, this is Melanie Naumann, and welcome to the Stories in Songs Podcast. 

Tell me, do you want to write lyrics that have an enticing flavor?

Do you want to find out what other songwriters do to engage someone ...

... and make them feel the tension ...

... and the attraction of meeting someone special for the very first time ...

... that makes you fall so hard for that person ...

... that you think you're losing your mind?

I can tell you right now if you struggle to make your audience feel the heat of the moment ...

Or you’ve never dared to write a love song that has some erotic touch to it.

But you’d like to try it out.

Then this episode for you!

It will help you engage your audience and make them feel like they are your song’s character!

And it will show you how to use the writing strategy of "Show, don't Tell" in your songwriting.

Does that sound good?

Then welcome to today's episode!


What you’ll learn in this episode

[00:01:30] This is our third podcast episode about the world-famous lovers’ first meet scene that every great story about love needs.

And we know that songs can tell a complete story, but more often than that, they are centered around one particular moment in time when something amazing or awful happened.

Songs let us work through the things that happened to us. They give comfort, hope, understanding, and sometimes they do even warn us. Songs have a tremendous power to reach our subconsciousness and influence how we feel, sometimes even how we think.

They can change us.

And if the lyrics use storytelling techniques, they are even more powerful. They can draw us vivid pictures, and sometimes we are even getting pulled into the situation and become the character in the song.

In the last episode, we talked about the song “Ain’t No Other Man” by Christina Aguilera, which unfortunately was only a retelling of how meeting her husband changed her life. It was very unspecific, and it just did not engage us enough to become the character or even root for the character.

But in today’s episode, we won’t be able to escape the overwhelming power of one very enticing song that will pull us right into the heat of an attraction-at-first-sight moment.

At the end of this episode, I will include an exercise that will help you write the lyrics for your own erotic flavored song that will turn up the heat and take your listeners on a hot ride. And we will center it on the lovers first meet scene.

If that sounds exciting and like something you want to do, then say YES right now. 

Did I hear you there?

I’m ready, so let’s start with this episode’s song analysis.

Are you excited?

So am I!


"Crazy for You" by Madonna

[00:03:21] The song we are going to analyze is "Crazy for You" by Madonna. It’s another song about falling in love at first sight, or at least about being struck by the feeling of just wanting to be with that person, kissing them, and being close to them.

This song analysis will provide you with an idea of how Christina Aguilera’s song “Ain’t No Other Man” that we studied in the last episode could have painted a better picture of the special moment of meeting someone special for the very first time.

Madonna’s song “Crazy for You” is like the preamble of what Aguilera had left out in “Ain’t No Other Man.” In further comparison, you will see that Aguilera provided us with a happy ending, which we will miss in Madonna’s song that is solely about the temptation of hooking up with someone.

The song “Crazy for You” was recorded by singer Madonna for the film Vision Quest in 1985. The song became Madonna's second number-one single on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and was written by John Bettis and Jon Lind.

Now, let’s get to know the lyrics.

As always, I’m reading them to you first before we start analyzing the storytelling aspect.


Crazy for You lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Swaying room as the music starts

Strangers making the most of the dark

Two by two their bodies become one

I see you through the smokey air

Can't you feel the weight of my stare

You're so close but still a world away

What I'm dying to say, is that

I'm crazy for you

Touch me once and you'll know it's true

I never wanted anyone like this

It's all brand new

You'll feel it in my kiss

I'm crazy for you, crazy for you

Trying hard to control my heart

I walk over to where you are

Eye to eye we need no words at all

Slowly now we begin to move

Every breath I'm deeper into you

Soon we two are standing still in time

If you read my mind, you'll see

I'm crazy for you

Touch me once and you'll know it's true

I never wanted anyone like this

It's all brand new

You'll feel it in my kiss

You'll feel it in my kiss

Because I'm crazy for you

Touch me once and you'll know it's true

I never wanted anyone like this

It's all brand new

You'll feel it in my kiss

I'm crazy for you

Crazy for you

Crazy for you

Crazy for you

It's all brand new, I'm crazy for you

And you know it's true

I'm crazy, crazy for you

It's all brand new, I'm crazy for you

And you know it's true

Yeah, I'm crazy for you

Crazy for you, baby

Now that we have read through the lyrics let’s start dissecting them to study the storytelling craft in this song by using the S.O.N.G. Framework again.

So are you ready?

Let’s begin.


S.O.N.G. framework to analyze the storytelling power of lyrics - Stories in Songs

1. Summary (About)

[00:06:10] The first step of the S.O.N.G. Framework for analyzing the lyrics’ storytelling aspect is called: Summary. So we answer a couple of questions that provide us with an overview of the song. 


The first question is:

What is the song generally about?

The title and the entire atmosphere the song provides through the evoked images let us be right there in the moment with the characters. We are at a dance floor noticing a very attractive person. And all that matters is getting close to that person.

So the song is about sexual attraction two people get caught in.


The next question is:

Do the first lines of the song set the expectations of what the song will be about? Is it a promise to what kind of story moment the audience can expect?

Here’s a reminder, the first line of the song is: 

Swaying room as the music starts

Strangers making the most of the dark

Two by two their bodies become one

The song’s beginning already creates sexual tension, and we feel this song will be a hot ride.

I think it’s less our expectations that are set on fire, but it’s more the urge of wanting to dive deeper, not just to be shown all those enticing images but to become a part of that moment. We want to get to know the character of the song and experience even more with them.

So the listener gets hooked by the promise to experience an enticing night club scene.


Now let’s look a little closer:

If the song was a scene taken out of a movie, under what genre would you promote the movie? What is the story’s genre?

If we put a sticker on the song, we could say it might be an erotic love story. 

This type of love story is driven by desire. Still, it can encompass both commitment and intimacy if the character’s story would continue, for example, on other songs of a concept album. 

This kind of story is mainly about a character’s sexual journey and how it impacts them as individuals. In contrast to an obsession love story that is about one of the lovers’ shallow but intoxicating passion for the other with a tragic ending usually, a happily ever after is possible for erotic stories but not required. 

Maybe it’s even going to be something like Fifty Shades of Gray, who knows?  

This beginning is not your typical love-at-first-sight romance kind of beginning. It’s not sparks and butterflies, but it goes right to feeling super attracted to someone and just thinking about one thing: becoming one with them as well.


So the song refers to a specific moment that we expect to see in the love story.

Because even if it’s not your typical get-your-tissues-out romance story, the lovers still have to meet. So yes, it’s another lover’s first meet scene.


Does the song use conventions of the love story genre as well?

Here’s a reminder: Conventions uniquely identify the characters’ roles in a particular story or how the story moves forward. 

For the love story, those conventions are having a 

  • rival
  • including helpers and harmers,
  • an external need, 
  • opposing forces, 
  • secrets, 
  • rituals 
  • as well as moral weight.

If you need those conventions explained, please check out the show notes of this episode. You’ll find on those linked pages a detailed explanation of what those conventions refer to. 

Now, did you find one of those love story conventions in Madonna’s song “Crazy for You”?

It’s hard, right?

There’s no rival. At least that role is not explicitly mentioned, even though we can assume that a dance club is full of possible rivals that could hook up with our person of interest before we get to them.

There are no helpers since the main character of the song does not refer to any friends. And she does not need to. We get the sense that the first lines were there to give us a quick shot of our surroundings before the rest of the lyrics only zoom in to that special person the character is crazy about. Everything else around them becomes irrelevant.

So if we are generous in our definition of conventions, we could say that the main character holds a secret that is about to be revealed.

And the secret is the title of the song: “Crazy for You.” 


Another question we have to ask when studying what a song is generally about is:

Is the song’s character talking about the distant past, their current state of mind, or an imagined future?

In comparison to Christina Aguilera’s song “Ain’t No Other Man,” we are not being retold the story of how two lovers met. 

We are right at the moment with the character because the story is told in the present tense. Everything unfolds in our mind’s eye right then and there. And we only get pulled in more and more, the more the narrator overcomes the distances to finally see eye to eye with the person they are crazy about.


The last question of the first step of the S.O.N.G. framework is:

Are we hearing someone’s inner monologue, someone narrating a story, or a conversation between two or more people?

Even though the main character addresses the attractive person across the room, her words are an inner monologue. There are all those things she wants to tell him that are bubbling up inside of her, but we know the way they communicate is only by gestures and facial expressions.

No one would imagine someone yelling into the other one’s ear that you are crazy about them. And you would announce everything you expect to happen.

No one would do that.

So the feeling of intimacy only gets stronger by hearing the character’s thoughts and sharing the emotions that are merely overwhelming her.


S.O.N.G. framework to analyze the storytelling power of lyrics - Stories in Songs

2. Observer

[00:12:18] Okay, now that we are fired up after getting a general overview of the story, let’s talk about the characters in Madonna’s song “Crazy for You.”


What is the role the singer takes on in the song?

The singer is the main character, and she lets us feel with her and read her thoughts as she experiences that particular moment of meeting a beautiful person.


Is there another person that the singer refers to?

Yes, she is only focusing on that person across the room. He or she is all they can think about.


What does the main character in the song consciously WANT? What is her goal?

She is singing:

I never wanted anyone like this

Those lines are not specific. 

But because we have the comparison of “I never wanted anyone LIKE THIS,” she confesses that she has become a slave to her sexual needs. She might never have intended to just hook up with someone, but this person is different.

She just wants him or her.

And we are just as eager to find out if those two hook up.


Now that we know what the character WANTS, do we also find out what they unconsciously NEED? What is her internal desire?

In a typical romantic love story, the characters mostly have to change their view of the world to be able to commit to being in a relationship. 

In Pride and Prejudice, Elisabeth had to move beyond being that prejudiced to see Darcy as the kind and caring man he is. Darcy had to put down his pride to see that Elisabeth, with her intelligent teasing, was the best match for him even though her social class wasn’t that formidable.

In Bridget Jones Diary, Bridget had to stop being selfish and understand that losing Mark Darcy would not only be a loss to her, but also to the UK because he is such a great attorney for human rights. She had to stop putting her selfish needs ahead of everyone and think about the well-being of others.

That’s what I’m referring to when we talk about the internal need of a character. They need to change and grow as a person. But they are unconscious of what they need until they change and mature.

In Madonna’s song “Crazy For You,” we don’t get any hints whatsoever about what that character could need to grow as a person. The song focuses entirely on the character’s WANT, which is represented by that attractive person.

But we don’t need to include the NEED. This song is about a short moment in time, and in order to pull us right into the tension between those two, everything else that could distract us from experiencing that moment with them is unnecessary.


The next question is:

Do we like the main character of the song? Does she have positive character traits? Or is it someone we despise and can’t consider a role model?

Since we do not get any insights into who that character is, we can’t really make that judgment. And again, it’s not necessary to know if we like that person or not. 

The purpose of the entire song is to put the audience in the character’s shoes. It’s done so well that we start to see ourselves as the main character. 

And if we are that person in that song, then it’s up to us if we like us or not.

Do you agree?

I’d just like to add that the song does not express anything that would tell us the main character is not sympathetic.

We see her struggle with that urge that’s overcoming her. And that makes her human. She is not someone who came there just to hook up. The feeling is new to her as well when she admits: “I never wanted anyone like this.” And that’s what makes her sympathetic.


The last question of the second step of the S.O.N.G. framework is:

What is the point of view?

As always, I refer to the book “Great Songwriting Techniques” by Jack Perricone to decide on what point of view was used.. 

In “Crazy for You,” the songwriters used direct address because the pronouns are “I” and “You,” even though it’s an inner monologue. But we know for sure to whom she is talking in her mind.


Alright, two of four steps of the S.O.N.G. framework are completed. We got a bird’s eye view of what the song is about, and we’ve gotten to know the main character.

S.O.N.G. framework to analyze the storytelling power of lyrics - Stories in Songs

3. Narration

[00:16:40] Now it’s time to study the storytelling power of the lyrics.

The first question is: 

What are the characters literally doing?

That’s simple, right?

They are dancing.


But let’s take a closer look:

What is the essential action of what the characters are doing in the scene? What is on their secret agenda? What are they trying to achieve?

Okay, I guess we agree when we say there’s no secret agenda – at least not for us because we know the main character wants to kiss the other person. 

But the way they try to seduce each other is by starting to dance together.

Madonna sings:

I walk over to where you are

Eye to eye we need no words at all

Slowly now we begin to move.

The essential action is seducing the person she is crazy about.

We can’t tell what the love interest has on their agenda, but we can assume they want the same because they start dancing together.


But here comes the million-dollar question:

Is there a problem the character is facing? Does something challenge her? Or is there some kind of conflict that she has to solve? If so, what is the central conflict the main character in the song has to deal with?

If we read between the lines, we conclude that the main character is battling her own feelings. She is overwhelmed by how attracted she feels to that someone. She sings:

Trying hard to control my heart

So she is trying to hold herself back, but it’s like those two lovebirds are like magnets. She can’t resist that person’s pull.

Furthermore, we have to consider the location. 

A dance floor filled with people is like an obstacle course if you want to get from one side of the room to the other. She lets us know that there is indeed some distance to overcome by singing:

I see you through the smokey air

Can't you feel the weight of my stare

You're so close but still a world away

But if we should focus on one central problem, I’d say it’s definitely the loss of control that overcomes her. As already stated, she did not go to that club with the intention of hooking up as she does in the end. It’s simply because the attraction is too strong that she can’t put up a fight to resist.


Let’s continue with the next question:

Do the first lines introduce the problem the character in the song will have to deal with? And thus hook us and spark our interest?

Let’s look at the first lines again. 

Madonna is singing:

Swaying room as the music starts

Strangers making the most of the dark

Two by two their bodies become one

It might not be that obvious to pinpoint a challenge for the character in those first three lines of the song.

But let’s just focus on what is being said.

We have a room, possibly a dance floor, and strangers start to dance to the sound of the music.

The choice of wording is very well done. She is not singing: people are “making the most of the dark,” but she refers to them as strangers. That defining word tells us that the main character doesn’t know anyone there. For now, she is just standing there like an observer.

And in the third line, she tells us that their bodies become one. That means she is left out of what’s happening around her. She is not a part of it.

With that being said, we can safely assume that the first lines of the song do introduce a problem the character has to deal with. It’s being without someone in the middle of many strangers who are hooking up.

So yes, we are hooked because we want to know if she will find someone too.

Does that sound like something you can agree on?


Perfect, let’s start with the Story Grid’s five commandments to evaluate and analyze the moment told in the song’s lyrics.

Analyzing the scene told in the song.

[00:20:50] Do not worry if you haven’t got a grip on the Story Grid’s five commandments yet. I will continue explaining them so that you can better internalize them.

For now, it’s just important that you remember that those commandments refer to the five essential elements of every scene or story. And you find them in the overarching story of every good novel as well as in every well-done scene of a movie or chapter of a book. They are like the foundation of what we expect a working scene, chapter, or story has to include. 

And since songs can be like small clips of a larger story, those commandments are valid for lyric writing as well.


Okay, let’s just start with the first commandment:

What is the inciting incident?

Imagine your character is like the character in Madonna’s song standing on the dance floor. They have come there, intending to have some fun. That is what they are anticipating. So when we look further back to what the song’s lyrics are not telling us, it is that sometime before the character came to the club, they decided to go there. Whatever led to that decision is the inciting incident of that scene, we are witnessing.

The purpose of an inciting incident is to get the story or scene going. And if the character hadn’t decided to go there, everything that follows would have never have happened.

So the inciting incident, be it evoked through coincidence or a causal event, is what gets the ball rolling.

Does that make sense to you?

Okay, perfect. 


Let’s move on to the second Story Grid commandment. 

What is the unexpected event that turned the tables?

The unexpected event is called “the turning point progressive complication.” 

Now see, with establishing your character’s inciting incident, we know what they are up to. We know their path from A to B. 

But going from A to B is never easy.

Some complications make it harder to get where you want to go. In Madonna’s song, the character might not have anticipated that she can’t see much because of the smoky air. That’s bad, but it doesn’t stop her from being there.

Another complication that might be even worse for the song’s character is the feeling of being left out. Everyone is hooking up but her. So that’s what we call a progressive complication because it’s even worse than the one before.

The progressive complication turning point is the unexpected event that throws your character completely of their path. Going from A to B in a straight line is not possible anymore. They are suddenly standing at a crossroads and need to decide before they can continue. Either that decision brings them closer to their goal again, but they have to make a detour, or it’s bringing them further away.

Suppose we imagine that the character in Madonna’s song is in the club for doing business. Maybe she is a tax collector. Then her goal would be to talk with the person in charge. 

But seeing that special someone in the crowd is the event that puts the character into a dilemma. Does she keep waiting for the person in charge to do her job, or does she succumb to her feelings?

Waiting would bring her closer to her goal, but she would miss out on meeting that person that makes her heart fly through the room. But if she would cross the room, she could have some fun, but she couldn’t do her work, which would lead to even more trouble the next day when she has to tell her boss why she didn’t collect the taxes.

So I hope you can understand progressive complications and the turning point event a little better now. Complications make your path harder from A to B, but the turning point puts you at a crossroad where you have to make a decision first.

To conclude, what was the turning point line in Madonna’s lyrics for “Crazy for You”? It’s this one:

I see you through the smokey air

Seeing him is what throws her into a crisis.


So let’s continue with the crossroad moment.

What’s the dilemma the main character has to face now that she has seen that attractive person? What are her options? 

Because I’ve already explained what the crisis is, let’s find it for this song.

The only hint we get is the line: 

Trying hard to control my heart

The character is clearly struggling with what’s happening to her. But since we do not have any background information whatsoever as to why she is there, we can’t say what’s at stake for her. And as I told you from the tax collector example, there’s always something to lose when you are in a crisis.

If we stick with the tax collector example, then not approaching him would result in missing out on him, but hooking up with him could cost her her job.

So that’s what a crisis could be about.

But it’s not necessary to include the whole “weighing your options” process in a song. The line “Trying hard to control my heart” is enough to let us know that something is going on inside of her that holds her back. Even if it might be just a second, but in that split second, she is coming to a decision.


And the decision is commandment number 4.

What's the decision the character makes? 

I don’t think you had any trouble finding out what her decision is.

She sings:

I walk over to where you are

That’s all we need to know. The character takes action. 


And now we just want to know:

How does it all turn out? 

The resolution is the fifth and last commandment. We want to know what consequences or opportunities the decision led to.

She sings:

Slowly now we begin to move

Every breath I'm deeper into you

Soon we two are standing still in time

So she is getting what she set out to do.

She wanted to kiss him, and by saying: “Every breath I'm deeper into you,” we get the feeling that they are moving closer and closer together until they kiss.

And that’s actually a great ending for this erotic love story moment because when we look back at the beginning of the song, she sang:

Strangers making the most of the dark

Two by two their bodies become one

And now she has become a part of that culture or atmosphere. She is kissing a stranger as well, and they are one.



[00:27:26] So when we consider the beginning and the ending of the song, we can talk about the most significant indicator that we indeed witnessed something that we can claim to be a working scene or story moment.

As I’ve already said and will do so many more times, because it’s so important, stories are about change.


So let’s just look at the next question:

Did the song’s main character change her perception of the world around her after going through that situation?

There is no character development in Madonna’s song. The period of that short moment isn’t longer than a couple of minutes, and the character’s actions stand in the foreground.

But what we have is a change in the situation. 


So to wrap it up, how did the situation change for the main character in the song?

In a nutshell, her situation changed from being alone and feeling left out to being with someone and taking part in what she only observed before.

This change is positive because, basically, Madonna’s song “Crazy for You” is about love and connection. And even if this is not your typical meet-cute scene of a romance story, the deeper human need for connecting with someone and feel wanted is at the core of this song.


Another exciting way to observe if the song is about change is to compare the first and the last sentence of the song. Can we see a difference between how the song started and how it ended?

Okay, here’s how it started:

Swaying room as the music starts

Strangers making the most of the dark

Two by two their bodies become one

And the song ended like this:

And you know it's true

Yeah, I'm crazy for you

Crazy for you, baby

So when we compare the beginning with the ending of the song, we can clearly see the positive change in her situation that we just talked about.

Are you with me?

The beginning painted a picture of someone just watching what’s happening around them. Strangers found someone to dance with. And at the end of the song, so did she.

Remember, if the first and last lines of your lyrics mirror each other, but they show the change – either of the character, their situation, or both – the song becomes much more powerful because it lays the foundation to create catharsis.


Writing Techniques

[00:29:52] Lastly, let’s quickly talk about the writing techniques used in this song.

The first question is:

Is the singer only revealing some general information, or does she go into the specifics?

In Madonna’s song, the main character does not tell us anything. At least not when we consider her backstory. We don’t find out more than what is happening right then and there.

When we analyzed “Ain’t No Other Man” by Christina Aguilera in the last episode, I told you about the writing technique of “Show, don’t Tell.” 

Here’s a quick reminder of how to tell the difference between showing and telling:

Telling is similar to informing your audience. You’re supplying information by stating it. 

Telling in “Crazy for You” would have been, for example, just stating the fact: “People danced.”

But showing is allowing your audience to deduce anything.

Showing paints a picture the listener can see in their mind’s eye.

So singing “Swaying room as the music starts” is showing. Having those vivid images in your head helps to become part of the experience.


Let’s talk a little more about how great the “Showing” has been done for this song.

We find that out by asking the question: Is the song evoking specific pictures in the audience’s mind using imagery?

In Madonna’s song, we don’t have any trouble figuring out where we are. We can almost feel the dense hot atmosphere of the club we’re in. That power of imagery is so strong because, as already said, she’s not telling us about it. 

Instead, she is showing us. 

The lyrics’ beauty is that the choice of words not only paints a vivid picture, but it creates motion. We begin to sway with the music as well, and we can see all those other people slowly dancing in that room as well. We see them hooking up and moving closer and closer together until two persons become one. 

Using words like “swaying” for “dancing” helps bring the listener closer to the setting.

Furthermore, the songwriters used some other great imagery. 

For example:

I see you through the smokey air

Can't you feel the weight of my stare

In those two lines, we have the image as well as the feeling of the “smoky air.” We can almost see the misty air around us and smell its heaviness. Added to that, there is a “weight” to her stare. She is not just looking at him, but that stare is filled with such a huge longing that it starts to weigh on her.

We also feel the tension between those two in the second verse and how they move closer together:

Eye to eye we need no words at all

Slowly now we begin to move.

Every breath I'm deeper into you.

Compare that song to Aguilera’s song “Ain’t No Other Man,” and you’ll see this one is on a different storytelling level. The lyrics of “Crazy for You” create much more intimacy and pull the listener into the action.


S.O.N.G. framework to analyze the storytelling power of lyrics - Stories in Songs

4. Gist

[00:33:21] Okay, now let’s sum up the song by talking about its big takeaway.

Does that sound good?

Looking back at the problem the character had to deal with in this song, did she solve it?

The problem that we defined for her was her loss of control.

I wouldn’t say that she solved that problem since she gave in to her human needs for love and connection. But that is what makes her relatable. Sometimes we just need to listen to our heart, and our minds will tell us we’re losing control. When in truth, we’ve just given the command over to our heart. And that can never be a bad thing.


Talking about the effect of her decision...

What is the message of the song? What can the audience take away from it?

I think the message is that: We can experience love and connection when we stop overthinking a situation and listen to what our heart is telling us.

That’s a positive takeaway, and therefore this song can be considered a prescriptive little tale.


Does the title refer to the message of the song?

The song’s title is “Crazy for You,” which is repeated throughout the song.

The title does not directly point to the song’s message, but if we read between the lines, then “Crazy for You” does its job by incorporating the song’s gist: You give control to your heart when you’re crazy for someone.


Now we have gone through the 4-step-framework of analyzing the storytelling in the lyrics of a song. 

I hope you have a better understanding now of how vividly you can paint a picture in your lyrics and pull your listeners into the action putting them in your character’s shoes while experiencing the situation as if they were there themselves.

The lyrics of Madonna’s song “Crazy for You” are extraordinarily well done to start daydreaming right away. And I’m glad that after I’ve pointed out some flaws in Christina Aguilera’s song “Ain’t No Other Man” in the last episode of this podcast, this episode showed you a way of how to hook and engage your audience to make them relate.


Lyric Writing - Song Exercise

Songwriting Exercise - The Lovers Meet

[00:35:32] Now we’re left with the task of applying what we’ve learned to our own songwriting.

So here’s the exercise I want you to do.

I want you to write your own original lyrics about an enticing lover’s meet scene inspired by Madonna’s song “Crazy for You.”

As always, in the show notes of this episode, you can download the PDF with all the instructions.

But here’s a short overview.

  1. I want you to use present tense since that is the tense that creates the feeling of being caught in the moment with the song’s character.
  2. Write a short moment in time without looking into the future that shows the change from being left out / alone to have become part of something / being together. Focus on that short moment and put the character’s action in the foreground.
  3. Use direct address (pronouns “I” and “You”), although your character only speaks in their own mind to the person they are attracted to.
  4. Include a specific problem the character has to deal with in your song, especially by focusing on feeling overwhelmed by that person’s attraction. What does this feeling result in? Be creative.
  5. Do not let the character in your song overthink the situation. Show that they feel that something is different or is overcoming them, but don’t allow them to begin an inner monologue about it.
  6. Include all five commandments. But they do not have to be in order. You can switch them up between your verses, chorus, and pre-chorus.
    1. So the inciting incident of your character is establishing an event that the character in your song anticipates. That’s his/her status quo. Ask yourself: Where are they off to? Where are they heading?
    2. The turning point will be meeting that special girl or boy for the very first time.
    3. The crisis can be as short as “Trying hard to control my heart.” After all, we don’t want to let the character analyze anything.
    4. Show the character’s decision.
    5. Include a resolution letting your audience know how it all turned out. Do that by showing how your character is not alone anymore. What are your two lovebirds doing? Don’t skip ahead in time. Continue to stay in the moment.
  7. The song must end positively.
  8. Use “Show, don’t Tell” by replacing common words with action verbs that speak to our senses or show motion. The goal is to let your listeners experience the situation in your character’s shoes.


For further inspiration and to read over the guidelines, download the exercise PDF in the show notes of this episode.

Do the exercise because the more you study the lyrics of other songwriters, the easier it will become for you to write your own lyrics and tell captivating stories in your songs.

Sound good?


Alright, now we’ve come to the end of today’s show.

If you liked it, please tell your friends about it.

In the next episode, we will continue by analyzing another way to write about the lovers-first-meet moment. The song will be from the Beatles. 

Can you guess which one it will be?

Don’t miss the next episode, and if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to my podcast.

Thanks a lot and see you next time.

© Stories in Songs, Melanie Naumann

Other ways to enjoy this post:

Comment · Listen to the Episode · Transcript as PDF · · Do the Exercise

Lyric Mastery - Independent Songwriting Consultant for Music Artists and Record Labels

Want to listen to more episodes?

Here you'll find a list of all the released episodes of the Lyric Mastery Podcast.

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to the Lyric Mastery Podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. Step for step I'm helping you write powerful song lyrics, and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on an important step. Click here to subscribe in iTunes or Google Play!

Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes or Google Play, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!

Get the RSS feed:

Leave A Reply or a Hi

Become A Lyric Master

Each person in the world has extraordinary inner gifts, but you gotta do what it takes to express them.

Get "21 Steps to a Written Lyric"