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From Outlines To Songs

From Outlines To Songs

Let’s tie some song prompts to creating outlines to songs!

Everything you’re doing to learn songwriting should be in a building mode:  if you’ve used some of the song prompts, your next step will be to create a song.

But how do you go from song prompt, to outlines to songs?

We’ll walk you through the entire process from song prompt to finished song!


From Outlines To Songs: Start With “How Was Your Weekend” Prompt


If you haven’t completed this prompt, take a few minutes to do it now by following the link:  How Was Your Weekend Song Prompt


At the end of the prompt, you chose a single moment to write about.

Let’s expand on that to complete the From Outlines To Songs Exercise:


1 You wrote about one moment, now choose a few others from the chronology that peak your interest.  Focus on every detail for about 3 minutes apiece, and write it out:

  • Where did you go?
  • Who did you talk to? Was it pleasant? A fight?
  • What did you eat? What did it smell/taste like?
  • What was going on around you? Interesting people? scenery?
  • Goal: take note of how you felt at different points and see if you can spot any themes.
  • Write down the themes and determine if there is any common theme running across your 3 or 4 “moments”


2 Place your 3 or 4 moments into an outline – it can be chronological order, or it can be some other order based on the theme you’ve discovered.

  • Start with [A] or [I] but make it a true outline
  • Pull your most impactful theme to the top and label it – Song Idea for now


3 Let’s look for some verses!  Go back through your outline and written moments and try to find things that stand out to you or are connected.

  • Why these moments vs the Great Dane with an umbrella that ran by?
  • Are they connected some how?
  • Is there one moment that’s stronger than the others?  Why?
  • Are there any characters or themes that jump out? Greed, Passion, Anger, Hope . . . ?
  • Did you learn anything about yourself or someone else?


4 Now that you’ve found a scene and a story line or action to go with it, what’s the big take away? This will be your chorus!

  • Did the last couple of bullets in Step 3 reveal the big song idea?
  • Write it down:  refine the theme you placed at the top labeled Song Idea! Give it more clarity versus just a single word. Is it about greed and how it can turn your life upside down? How passion can lead to obsession with no resolution for either party? Be specific.
  • Now write about the big message.


5 Use the song outline worksheet to drop all of your song elements into: the verses, chorus, and bridge if you have one.

song outlines to songs

  • You’ll also clarify the point of view – who’s the speaker?
  • Do you have a melody in mind? You’ve probably been humming something – go ahead and record it without an instrument.
  • Now sing it as you move through your outline. Wait . . . you don’t have any lyrics broken into line yet? No problem! Don’t worry about lines or rhyming anything right now – just tell the story under your melody.


Congratulations on finishing the first draft of your newest song!


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