It happens: sometimes you consistently write from a single point of view or perspective and can’t seem to break the habit.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should simply change it because you keep writing first person songs.
I’m a big believer that the song should be what the song wants to be.
So how do you make sure you’re in the right POV and that you’re creating some variety in your song catalogue?
This question actually came from a reader who answered the survey that I link to on the monthly newsletter.
So, I thought it might be helpful to take one reader question a month and provide an answer, maybe a worksheet or songwriting exercise and get everyone’s songwriting chops rolling in 2017!
That’s easy enough, but what about creating some larger variety? And more importantly, the ability to know when to use a particular POV with a particular perspective?
First step, let’s take a few minutes and talk about the difference between point of view and perspective, as well as how they work together to create the character or storyteller’s delivery platform for your song’s message.
This combination sets the context for the lyrics, so getting it right is important.
Point Of View or Perspective?
Point Of View (POV) is how the main character is telling the story.
For example in first person point of view, the main character is telling the story directly. The primary pronoun is “I” but includes: I/we, me/us, my/mine, our/ours.
In second person, or direct address, the main character is telling the story directly to someone else. The primary pronoun is “you” but includes: you, your/yours.
In third person omniscient, the story is told by an all-knowing, all-seeing narrator. The primary pronoun is “he/she/it/they” but includes: him/her/it/them, his/hers/its/theirs.
Third person limited is rare in songwriting. It’s the story being told by a narrator who only knows what the main character is thinking. I’ve found that if you’re telling something in three minutes, it’s just best to know what everyone’s thinking about, so we’ll stick to omniscient!
Perspective is the main character’s voice – where is it coming from?
Is it Internal (thinking to self) or External (talking to others)?
How Do I Create Variety In POV?
I tend to take a song and at times, just to make sure I’ve got the correct point of view or perspective, do a couple of quick exercises.
You can do this with a new song using the full exercises mentioned below, or use a song you’ve already written that you feel could be stronger.
WRAPPING IT UP
When thinking about point of view or perspective, remember you have both at your disposal and that leveraging them to create the right context and delivery of your song’s message is the goal.
And don’t let song craft keep you from just going for the lyric! Getting something down first is critical to moving forward with a song. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or elegant, or final, or completely outside your norm.
You can always go back!
And that’s the beauty of songwriting. Something inspired you to write the song. Get that down. Because making it the best song it can be to convey your message as the songwriter is the goal, take the time to accomplish it.
In order to find the right version of the song, try things that are a little formulaic, like songwriting exercises, to wood shed your writing skills.
You’ll be amazed after doing the exercise above how some of the “versions” you try will become second nature and the exercise will become part of your song craft. As a result, you’ll begin to hear the options as you write.
There’s nothing better than an “a-ha” moment when you eliminate the word “she” and replace it with “I” and hear how your message resonates more just because you were aware of point of view or perspective change options.
Pretty cool feeling – and it’s easy to get to simply by doing the POV Exercise just a few times.
All it takes is a small investment of time in your songwriting to build those SongChops!
Hope this one was helpful!
Linda “shibes” Schaible
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