How To Write Song Lyrics: Number of Lines

Apr 24, 2021 | Beginning, Lyrics

I got a question from one of the SongChops Members asking how to write song lyrics, and the number of lines in a verse, chorus and bridge in particular.

What a great question – and one I realize I’ve never actually covered!

So, how many lines should you have in your verse?  What’s the rule?

What about the chorus?  How many lines in a chorus?

The great news is, there’s no rule – but there is a rule of thumb.

 

How To Write Song Lyrics: Number of Lines

If you’re a beginning songwriter, I’m going to suggest you start with some standard formats to help you get a song completed.

For example, until you get 10 – 15 under your belt, use the following line count format:

VERSE – 4 lines

CHORUS – 4 lines

VERSE – 4 lines

CHORUS – 4 lines

VERSE – 4 lines

CHORUS – 4 lines

Now, you’ll notice there is no BRIDGE.  Why? Because that adds a complexity and nuance you don’t want to start monkeying with until you’ve gotten basic song structure down, as well as the function of each of the song parts within the song.

Let’s Add Some Variety

Once you’ve gotten past your first 15 songs, let’s try something a little different. Now, you’re going to notice that a 3 line verse is a little harder to write – and rhyme!

You won’t be able to write two lines that rhyme, then another two that rhyme (rhymed couplets or an AABB rhyme pattern) or an ABAB pattern where the first and third, and second and fourth lines rhyme.

You will also have the have your story move faster and the third line will need to sound like it’s resolving to the chorus rather than waiting until a fourth line. So you’ll need to be zippy in how you’re telling the story or getting the emotion across.

So now what?!

Try one or both of these rhyme patterns: ABA or AAA and for your CHORUS BCBB or BCBC

And use this song structure:

VERSE – 3 lines

CHORUS – 4 lines

VERSE – 3 lines

CHORUS – 4 lines

VERSE – 3 lines

CHORUS – 4 lines

Write another 10 songs with this pattern and a variety of rhyme patterns.

Once you’ve done all this, you should have a better sense of:

  • How rhyme patterns can link/connect your lines not only within a verse, but across to a chorus as well.
  • How to create snapshots of imagery quickly due to the 3 line verse constraint, so your 4 line verses will become even richer.
  • When to use a 3 line verse or even a 3 or 6 line chorus and why breaking the “rule of thumb” can be effective in a song – and then use it to your advantage!

FREE Tips & How To Guides!

Absolutely No Spam!

More Stories


No More $900 For Pitchable Demos!

Voice Memo 2 Demo class

Demystify Social Media For Music!

social media for musicians paid