Are Your Songs Believable? 3 Keys To Insure You Won’t Miss The Mark




If I had to choose one thing as the most important thing in songwriting, it would be “making your song believable.” Throughout the entire writing process I am asking myself, does this feel real? When someone hears your song for the first time, that’s what hits them first. Nothing loses the listener faster than a line or song that’s not believable. Here are a few ways to make sure your song is “Real.”


Always write true statements.

“Everyone knows love is just a game” is not a true statement because not EVERYONE feels that way. But- “Some may say that love is just a game” is true because some people certainly feel that way. This may seem like a small point but it is HUGE. Always write true statements. People can’t argue with truth. It’s real and it affects people, even if they don’t like it, it effects them.

Write the songs truth and NOT your truth.

If you start out writing a song about something in your life that has happened. A breakup, etc; don’t insist on writing your story exactly the way that happened. The song is going to have it’s own heart and soul and you must learn to follow the song’s truth. Again, this is a subtle difference but one of the most powerful things to remember. The song is KING. Always. Learn to listen for the truth in the song. Letting go and being flexible will make you a better writer.

Follow your own voice.

Every successful writer I know has a VOICE. Not a singing voice, but an inner voice. A style of writing that is unique to only them. And it is the most honest place a writer can come from.It’s a deep real place. How do we find our voice? By experimenting. Writing a lot and paying attention to the way your songs effect the people who hear them. We are not an island. We need feedback to grow, so join a local song organization; and play your songs for your peers, bandmates, or co-writers. Take a class where you can share your songs and get a positive critiques. The forums is a great place to get feedback from pros and peers.

These are a few key things that have helped me create more believable better songs. They were not learned overnight but once mastered they have taken me farther than my dreams thought possible.

Write on! Clay


 Clay Mills is a 11-time hit songwriter and co-founder of SongTown

19 thoughts on “Are Your Songs Believable? 3 Keys To Insure You Won’t Miss The Mark

  1. Great advise Clay…I write what I know, because making stuff up just doesn’t feel right in my songs. For writers like myself, there is refuge in the ol’ phrase…”Three Chords & The Truth”….Write On…!

  2. Someone said, “In fiction your goal is to get the reader to ‘suspend disbelief’, to ‘believe’ in the ‘reality’ of your ‘fiction’.”
    Songs can be about real things, real experiences the writer has had, with real people, in the real world. But Songs can be fictions, fantasies, with created Characters. The ‘voice’ is the “Singer-Character”. It doesn’t have to be you. I like it when I have a sense of a Singer-Character telling me his story, especially if it is credible as possibly being real.
    The Singer-Character may have a “Love-Interest Character” he’s either telling me, the audience about, or to whom he is speaking directly; ‘she did this and that’ versus ‘you did this and that.’
    Sometimes a Line comes to a Songwriter and has enough of an interesting idea, enough ‘Hook-Factor’ to inspire him to want to know more about the story that idea might fit into. Sometimes it takes a while for the concept to incubate, for the Songwriter to get a fuller picture of the reality of the Singer-Character, enough ‘suspension of disbelief’ to let the Singer-Character tell his story.
    And the Rhyme is there, if you just tell the story. Coherent thoughts have automatic Rhyme.
    THE Hook, the title Line, with its Melodic match, will come when it is ‘time’ for it.
    That’s something else Songwriters start to sense. Has ‘enough’ exposition of the Singer-Character’s story been done? Or not ‘enough’? Or have I already said ‘too much’? Should I already be at the Stanza-Type Chorus, or already have hit THE Hook as a Refrain-Type Chorus? The ‘enough’ concept is the Songwriter’s judgment call.
    Let the ‘voice’, the Singer-Character, tell their story. Give it time to incubate so you can assume the ‘character’ of the Singer-Character. And be mindful of ‘enough’.

  3. Yup! Regarding number 2 … Harlan Howard said “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a great song” and that’s what he meant …just because it happened “that way” doesn’t mean it needs to be written THAT way 🙂

  4. So Clay when you write about “writing a true statement” do you mean from the writer’s point of view or from the point of view that the writer thinks or believes that other people have? Duncan.

    1. Duncan, I don’t think a writer should pretend to know what someone else is thinking unless that person has told him/her.


  5. Your first comment about changing. “Everyone” to “Some may” say that love is just a game….good advice. One word change makes a big difference. I rewrite and rewrite because of that ‘one word’

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