Verb Power

Verbs are power in a song. So, mastering your verb power will make your songs more memorable because there is more emotion and motion in your songs. Verbs will enhance your imagery. Sounds strange, but let’s dig into the idea of stronger verbs.

The words “jump” and “catapult,” while synonyms, have very different visual and emotional responses from a reader/listener. Verbs can help your songs rise above the expected.

Because something as simple as word choice can move a song from nice when heard, to memorable, every word counts. Since emotional connection is what brings it home for a listener, verbs are a key part of your arsenal. The right verbs can bring a whole new dynamic to your song.

Pat Pattison gave an excellent talk on how to electrify your verbs. I’ve dropped that into the article, but I’ve also created a songwriting exercise and worksheet to go along with it.

Listen to the video and then have a go at the exercise. You’ll be amazed how your songs jump to life.

Verb Power Songwriting Exercise

Choose one of your songs you’re either stuck on or have finished a draft of but may not be completely satisfied with yet.

  • Go through the lyrics and circle all of your verbs.
  • Remove them from the song and write them down on a separate sheet of paper. KEY STEP!
  • Give your verb a score in terms of it’s ability to “electrify” anything. How interesting are they?

Let’s go with the traditional rock range of 0 – 11 for our scale.

For anything under 5, find a new word that’s at least a 6.


– “Run” is a 2 but “Scamper” is a 7

– “Stagger” is a 3 but “Wrecking ball dancing down the hallway” is an 11!

  • Now, go back and do the same thing, but now use 8 as your bar instead of 5.
  • Plug the words back into your song – how does it sound?

One thing to keep in mind is the “singability” of your song and how the word will hit the listener’s ear. If it’s too complex, it will get lost, basically reducing your “9” verb to a “0” pretty quickly.

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