Sitting at a table in a dark room with a single earbud lodged in my ear, illuminated by only the glow of a monitor, is the typical setting during my writing process. My mindset varies depending on the topic I intend on writing. The most constant tool I keep at my disposal across any topic or style of writing is the use of poetic devises.
The term poetic devise is broad and encompasses many tools for useful for writing. As far as punchlines are concerned; idioms, homonyms, hyperboles, and various puns are the easiest and usually are the most impactful poetic devise to use. When it comes to deep topics, anatrophes work very well. Anatrophes are basically an inversion of typical speech. I like to use them to make something appear deeper than it is on the surface. A Shakespearian example would be “glistened the morning dew” as opposed to “the morning dew glistened”. Allegories are another great use of extended metaphors. For example, when I wrote a whole song from the perspective of a tobacco seed, beginning with the moment it was planted till the end of its life being smoked in a cigarette and killing someone of cancer, all the attributes written were that of a person growing up and going through college and so forth.
Apart from the wording (which I feel is one of the most important elements of writing) there is syllable count, multiple syllable rhyme schemes, cadence and patterns.
There are also gold lines abVAB (adjective A, adjective B, verb, noun A, noun B) or silver lines, which are similar to gold lines, as well as other variations. This is when you place the corresponding types of words within (for the gold line example) a soft-soft-hard-hard-hard word order. An example of a golden line would be “a soft sensual strangulation around her neck and head”.
Alliteration is another key element of writing that creates the illusion of rhyming through rhythm by using words that start with the same letter, without actually rhyming.
Countless are the possibilities when considering the technical aspects of forming lyrics, so I will now move onto the raw emotional aspect of writing.
It has already been established that word usage and placement immensely help to evoke emotion, however there is much more to writing than just a format. I like to place myself in the shoes of whatever character I am writing about. Empathy is a great tool to have at your disposal when it comes to writing any sort of topical or deep piece of work. Experience, either your own or that of someone close to you, can be of great use when it comes to writing emotional material. You might be the toughest S.O.B out there, but there is something that pulls at your heart strings, something that gets even you to have to take a moment and pause. I urge you to embrace that, study it, let it overtake you, and then incorporate it into a piece of art that you write. When it comes to writing, it’s not so much an experience you have had as it is an understanding of what others may have gone through.
The last thing I can say is, in the midst of all of these technical aspects and tools that are at your disposal (many of which I have not even mentioned), please do not over think it. At its core, music is a feeling, an emotion, a moment in time meant to last through the ages. Everything I have ever learned is but a tool; a sharpening of the sword with each stone I overturn after I use them to move forward. These tools are not meant to create a writer, they are there to enhance the writing.
I haven’t gotten into double time, rhythms, delivery etc.… because that was not the purpose of this piece. Hell, if you want to learn to rap fast just study your favorite fast rapper and practice their flows like a proverbial karaoke, if you will. I can’t explain it; it’s one of those things that just is. Work at it constantly. It comes easy to some and others work a lifetime to find themselves still having difficulty. I get by just fine when it comes to chopping or double time, fast rap, triplets, whatever term you deem appropriate. Some might consider me a natural but there are many far better than I when it comes to speed rap.
When the sun sets and the studio locks its doors, on my drive home while I’m listening to whatever crap I just recorded, all I know is I enjoy what I do. Most times I am satisfied, sometimes I’m depressed, as I make my way toward home either eager to share or rework my efforts. The bottom line, regardless of how I feel on that ride home, is I love the art.
When it comes to writing, your experiences, feeling and emotion come first. Delivery and flow follow, and technique of writing is the book end that holds it all together.