How to write a song is a problem that can be solved in numerous ways. A song is art and there are no hard and fast rules. Yet, if you play ten songs for 1,000 people and let them vote, one or two would probably emerge as the clear favorites. What makes them “good songs?”
A good song can begin with the idea or song concept. What’s it about? What’s the story? The more unique it is, the better. One possibility is to take an old phrase and twist it into something no one has ever heard before. “He has friends in high places” is a commonly used phrase. “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places” was a title twist of that phrase that went Billboard #1 for Garth Brooks and launched his highly successful career.
Sometimes it’s the overall idea of the song rather than the title itself that makes the song unique. Or sometimes it’s a musical hook. a catchy melody married to a title in such a way it’s extremely memorable. “Lord I Need You” isn’t that unique of a statement. But Matt Maher married that phrase to a melody that soars, making it very popular both on Contemporary Christian radio as well as during Sunday services in many of the 450,000 Christian churches in the U.S. and even worldwide.
How to write lyrics is your next issue. It’s actually the part that often practically happens by itself. Once you have your idea and title the verse lyrics should start to come to you. That’s your initial draft that will almost surely need refining. Weed out cliches and replace them with fresh ideas.
Most songs have a chorus section. The chorus sums up the point of the verses, usually repeats 3 or 4 times verbatim, and it’s where the title appears at least once if not several times. Don’t let it go on too long, keep it concise. It should be distinct in nature from the verse. One easy way to achieve that is to give the chorus longer or shorter note values. If your verse is rapid fire, draw the words out longer in the chorus sections.
Some songs also have a short section known as the bridge and how to write a bridge is yet another simple task: it’s one or two lines, mo more than four lines, that are clearly distinct from either the verse or chorus and provide a little relief for the listener… “Oh something different here!” Lyrically it may offer an opposing viewpoint or strengthen it.
How to write a melody? Music? If you’re not a musician it may be best to let a musician write the music. Find your Elton John and you’re in business. But if you do believe you can write melody you can always sing it a capella (no accompaniment, just you singing) and let a song demo service find and supply the chords and arrangement that supports your melody. Most services will even write music for a lyric under a “work for hire” agreement.