Who doesn’t love breaking the rules?

But, just throwing rules to the wind isn’t what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about intentionally breaking the rules for a specific reason.

A great example is Brandi Carlile’s “The Eye” that only uses four lines for the last stanza, or Lori McKenna’s “Bird & The Rifle” that doesn’t close with the chorus.


Some Rules To Break


End Rhyme

The Rule: You should have lines that rhyme as couplets (e.g., A|A|B|B) or triplets (A|A|A) or . . . you get the idea.  So – create lines with no end rhyme match!

    • But, it has to be done for a reason, like the Chorus written in “Mama’s Broken Heart.”
    • This song is a great example of using internal rhyme to keep the rhymes going, but giving the chorus a different meter from the verses, speeding it up.
Stay Under 3:30

The Rule: No one wants a song that’s more than 3 or 3 1/2 minutes.

To stay under 3:30 you should have 3, maybe 4 verses max. So with this exercise, who cares!  Let’s go with ummmmm . . . eight and the hook 18 times. Maximum time 4:45.

Keep It Simple - 2 Syllable Words Max

The Rule:  Don’t use words over 3 syllables or that aren’t simple, common language. Big words aren’t used in hit songs.

    • It’s on! My favorite word in a song lately – amphibole.  Yep.
    • Jason Isbell uses “amphibole” in “Cumberland Gap” – he could have just said mountain.
    • Use at least two 3 syllable words in the chorus of a song (didn’t see that coming did you!) Or . . . just a really tough “word of the day” kind of word.
Pick One Of Your Own