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Writing Better Lyrics

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  980 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Pattison presents a unique, in-depth approach to the process of lyric writing. Songwriters will examine 17 extraordinary songs and learn the distinct elements that make them so effective. Pattison then presents more than 30 lyric-writing exercises designed to achieve the same results. From generating lyric ideas and managing repetition to developing verses, it's all here. ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published July 15th 2001 by Writer's Digest Books (first published September 15th 1995)
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Jul 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Writing Better Lyrics is just fine. But for a more condensed experience of the book, I would say just follow these rules:

(1) Freewrite at the same time everyday for 10 minutes. Pattison believes it ought to be anchored to an object, but I think this can come with time. Stay engaged in your senses, of course, but just let the total nonsense write itself on the page.

(2) Form and content must be in sync. In other words, prosody. If the song's about someone who is nervous and uncertain, make the str
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The name states exactly what you get out of this book. I wrote my first few tunes with some of these practices in mind -- after playing them at an open mic, two separate people approached me and commented on how well my lyrics were written. If you want to write stronger lyrics that grab interest, read and use the practices in this book. I bought the iBooks version awhile ago, but I am going to go out and buy it again in print and read it again. There are practices at the end of each chapter so y ...more
Lee Sinclair
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book focuses on writing lyrics which was exactly what I needed to write some song lyrics for my book. It covers topics such as verse development, perspective, dialogue, meter, & song form. Songwriters may prefer more comprehensive books but this is great for anyone wanting to write stronger lyrics.
Paige Gordon
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was without a doubt one of the most challenging books I've read in a very long time. I took the time to really work through every single exercise in it and although it was ridiculously difficult and frustrating a times, I can clearly see that I am already a better writer because of it. Pat is a gifted teacher and a genius at lyric writing and dissection. This book is absolutely essential reading for anyone wanting to improve their songwriting and is one I know I will be referencing time and ...more
Petko Bossakov
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book after finishing a free songwriting course by Pat Pattison on Coursera. As he says, there are "no rules, only tools", and he offers a great deal of songwriting tools in this book. Written in a laid back, easy to understand language, it teaches some useful techniques that I have been using since. ...more
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m FINALLY done this book!!! It took me 6 weeks and I’m now super behind in my reading challenge but it was really interesting and I learned a lot so no regrets. Would def recommend.
Sabne Raznik
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Pat Pattison's best of the various books he has written on songwriting. (It is also the most expensive, so I rented it rather than buy it. I rather regret that now because it would be a great resource to own.)It covers a little of everything having to do with that art. Much of it can also applied to any kind of writing one does. If you are looking for one handbook for songwriting or to improve the technicalities of your poetry, this is it. It also has many ideas for your writer's group. ...more
Aug 25, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Newest edition of a great book from my lyric writing teacher at Berklee. Has a lot of great insights for any kind of writer.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty good book for writing exercises, but I'm not really sure how good it is for writing songs. ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading the lyrics of a song is one of the most intriguing things I've ever done in my life. As I read their words, I think to myself, how did they organize everything to be this cohesive. This book, Writing Better Lyrics: The Essential Guide to Powerful Songwriting by Pat Pattison put me a step closer to learning the secrets behind songwriting. From this book, I learned the basic structure of how well structured rhymes and descriptive words construct the scenario for the song. I also learned th ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While there was a lot of great, helpful, reallly technical exercises that give any reader an in-depth look into how an expert songwriter approaches crafting lyrics.

The main reason I knocked off a couple of stars is first, it is a long read - especially the last quarter or so of the book, which is a deep, deep dive into pace, stress, and rhyme pattern.

Also, for yours truly, I come from a more punk background, so a lot of the “develop the characters and the story, keeping in mind their experienc
Papia Parvin
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is so awesome 😍
Rick Sabatini
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
First three chapters and the last chapter were great. Everything else was a slog.
Barack Liu
Apr 13, 2021 rated it really liked it

324-Writing Better Lyrics-Pat Pattison-Music-1995


" Writing Better Lyrics ", first edition in 1995. It mainly discusses the method of writing lyrics. Which involves the creation of lyrics inspiration, to the creation of lyrics, and so on.

Pat Pattison, born in the United States. He studied at the University of Minnesota, Indiana University. He currently teaches lyrics writing and poetry writing at Berklee College of Music. Representative works: " Writing Better Lyrics " and so o
Alex Pan
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good for beginners. Lots of discussion about rhythm and POV in writing in general. Great guide for poets too.
It's been years since I read this cover to cover, but it was helpful then. I've since given sections to friends in need of a little push.

Over time, I've realized that, for me, this book (and many other 'self-help' pieces) pushes me to simply be active. It's often less about what exactly I am doing and more important that I am just doing something.

Or it could be said like this, when I'm unsure of what to do, sometimes I just want to be told what to do. In that regard, this book offers a prescri
Grace Usleman
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I currently feel so enlightened that even though this ENTIRE book was about writing better lyrics, I have no words to describe my newfound lyrical and musical curiosity and development. Though I doubt I’ll ever get to attend one of Professor Pattison’s songwriting classes at Berklee, I really hope to continue learning and utilizing the lessons in these pages. Super worth the read and the time spent annotating and working on the exercises. Any songwriter NEEDS to read this, not to teach them exac ...more
Garrett Cash
May 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, music
Does a fine job with exercises to improve lyrics writing, but a lot of it appears counter-productive to originality. I can't say I agree with everything he says, especially concerning what he thinks to be cliche. Plenty of the greatest songs of all time from The Beatles to The Beach Boys and Led Zeppelin use the "cliches" that he points out, and I think nothing of them. ...more
Ian Kolaja
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book for songwriters of all levels. It's great if you're looking for more tools to help you finish songs, and it really gets you thinking about structure and the way that it can be used to help propel your lyrics. I see myself referring to this book a lot in the future as I continue to write songs. ...more
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, own, education
From one of Berklee Music's finest. Not just a read, but a workbook that not only inspires you to write songs, but to write good songs. Having studied with Pat and planning to do so again, I recommend his books and if you get a chance to do one of his papers or seminars, you won't regret it. ...more
Katie Hilton
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent resource I will be referring to for years to come. It will soon take the shape of a 'well-loved book'--worn pages and dogged ears and such.

I would highly recommend this as a resource for any wannabe songwriter.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will read again

Good book for reminding yourself about the technical side of writing and shows great examples of how editing can work and improve a song. I'll probably try and grab a paper copy sometime!
Jared Orentlich
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing Better Lyrics is a fantastic book for every musician. It goes into deep detail on everything one could know about songwriting, and gets ideas flowing almost immediately. I suggest this book for any aspiring songwriter.
Dawn Lennon
I didn't finish this book because I believe it is meant to be used as a lyric writing resource. It is truly full of terrific themes and examples about effective lyric writing and examples galore. As I work through my own efforts in songwriting, I'll be able to return to this book. ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Probably the best book on the subject. Every songwriter should read this book and keep it as a reference. Doing the methods proposed in it will make you abundant with lyrical material and imbue a system in you for thinking about how lyrics create emotion.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Songwriters will enjoy this book to perfect their craft. No business aspects, just a good look at rhyme structures, and creativity advise for songwriters.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This and Jimmy Webb's Tunesmith offer the most useful information that I've come across in any books about songwriting. ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bible for Writing the best lyrics you can. Formulaic approach, while still maintaining individuality.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"Here I want to focus on the most important part of all creative writing, and therefore surely of lyric writing: the art of deep diving - finding your own unique voice and vision." ...more
Adrielle Stapleton
This was a gift and I loved it. The song examples that Pattison works from seem to lean a bit toward country or folk style, but you could apply most of the strategies and tools in other genres.
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