Verb tenses changing, or going back and forth in a weird way.
This is one of the mistakes I see most often when critiquing song lyrics. Switching between past, present and future can really mess your lyric up if you are not super clear about what is going on. Let someone else read your lyric and have them tell you what they think is going on. They will often express confusion if your tenses are messed up.
Skipping important information. You know the story in your head.
You have to be sure you give the listener enough information so that they can follow the story.
If you have several characters in your song, the “he’s” and “she’s” can get really confusing. Be sure that all of your pronouns clearly identify who or what you are talking about.
This typically happens most often in the second verse. You say everything you can think of to say in the first verse and chorus. By the time you get to the second verse, there is nothing left to say. So, you just make up something that ties in loosely to the idea (or not). I suggest doing a rough outline before you start writing so that you know what each piece of the song is going to say.
A bridge that has nothing to do with anything.
If there’s not a river to cross, don’t build a bridge. Only write a bridge if there is something you really NEED to say. Something that makes the song stronger and better.
A weak idea.
It’s really hard to write a great song from a weak idea. If you are really struggling to bring an idea home, give your idea an honest and hard look. Is it really good enough to turn into a hit song? If not, move on to another, better idea.
Write on! MD