I have found that going back to my songs a week or two after I write them and running through this quick checklist helps me catch and fix many of the major flaws that can exist in a song. Print this one out and hang it in you writing (or re-writing) room to remind yourself to check these issues before you consider your song done!
1) Is my message clear? I like to run my song by someone else and get their feedback. I ask them to summarize the message of the song. If they don’t get out of it what I intended, I work on it some more and check with them again.
2) Are my pronouns consistent and clear? If I have more than one female in the song, is it clear each time I say “she” or “her” which one I’m talking about? The same goes for pronouns referring to objects. Pronouns can be tricky and confusing. I always give them a last minute checkup.
3) Did I write to my hook? Many times, we tend to wander. Especially in second verses. We say everything we can think of to say about our hook in verse one and then we just make up something in the second verse. I check every piece of the song to make sure it points to and supports my hook.
4) Does anything in my song work AGAINST my hook? You’d be amazed how many times I critique a song and there are lines that actually say the opposite of the hook. That makes your song confusing. If your song is about how much you love someone, it doesn’t need to say “I hate you sometimes”.
5) Do I have any extra or useless words? If a word doesn’t add to the song, I try to take it out. Do I really need that “and”, “but”, “just” or “cause”? If not, it goes.
6) Do I have any lines or words that are hard to sing? If so, I try to fix them so that the song sings easily and naturally. Singers pay close attention to this, so writers should too.
If you address and fix those 6 issues, you will have made your song better for sure!