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Removing Second Verse Curse

Removing Second Verse Curse

There is one thing most professional songwriters will agree on – and that’s getting stuck while trying to write a second verse. That’s what’s called: “The curse of the second verse.” They have many other names for it as well, “Second verse hell,” “The dreaded second verse,” and so on. Every songwriter faces this, and often. In this article we’ll explore “second verse curse” and give you the antidote to remove it.

Why is the second verse so dreaded?
It’s pretty common for songwriters to have an idea they’re excited about and they have the whole story in their head, or so they think. They write their first verse, pre-chorus, chorus and they’re feeling great about the song. Next, they attempt to write their second verse – and it hits them – the realization that they’ve said everything they needed to say in verse 1. Then they think, “Now where does or can this story go from here?” They don’t know what else to say because the first verse summed it all up. They are stuck. Everything was flowing like magic, until they landed in 2nd verse hell and got hit with the 2nd verse curse. Not to worry. I have the antidote to remove this curse and lift you into 2nd verse heaven.

Writing the 2nd verse: One Approach
The first direction to explore is to consider that what you have written as your first verse, may actually be your second verse. This occurs more often than you might imagine. The fix is easy. Move your first verse to your second verse and try writing a new first verse. Explore what might have happened before your existing verse. Don’t be timid about trying to include vivid, specific and rich details that touch a few of our five senses. Guide your listener toward what happens in your existing (and now 2nd) verse.

The Purpose of the First Verse
Writing song lyrics is very similar to writing stories in that you need a beginning, middle and an end. A first verse is much like the beginning of a story. In writing stories, you first introduce the characters and the problem or challenge they are facing or trying to solve. That is, what they are after or seeking, what they will be doing by the time you reach your chorus. When you tell the “whole story” in your first verse, that’s when you find yourself with nowhere to go in the second verse. The perfect first verse, tells just enough to introduce the characters, motives and desires, without telling it all.

The Purpose of the Second Verse
When you reach your second verse, it is time to advance the story. If the chorus summarized the main idea, we need more to story in the second verse, as in what happened next. The careful balancing act is to do this and still be able to lead to the chorus again in a way that makes sense. If your song has a bridge, that will be the song’s end or story resolution, and therefore you can think of your second verse as the story’s middle. You will reveal a little bit more of the problem, that wasn’t revealed in the first verse. You need to do this without repeating anything you’ve already said in verse one. Saying the same thing again in a different way, is not new information. Make sure you add completely new information into your story. One trick story writers do is to make the main character’s problem get even worse in the middle of the story. Just when you thought it was getting better, it took a turn and now is twice as bad as before. This ramps up the drama and tension. It works in songs too.

Second Verse – How to Turn Up The Heat
Try to add more drama and tension in your second verse by expanding the problem of the main character. Here’s an example to put it in perspective.

Verse 1: {Story beginning }
Main Character: A Guy (singer) who didn’t show his girl enough attention
Second main Character: Girl who has told guy she’s had enough
Main Character’s problem (as told in verse 1): Girl is losing interest in him and she tells him she is ready to move on.
Pre-Chorus: Guy tells girl what he’s doing to get her back: roses, dinner, less time hanging with his buddies
Chorus: He pleads his love for her and she’s going to be the center of his world.

Where story is at this point: Problem introduced, chorus solves it. We think everything is ok, right? Wrong. It’s time to ramp up the problem and keep the story going. She can’t let this guy off the hook that easy!

Verse 2: {Story middle } A new guy enters the picture and is trying to woo the girl away. She’s starting to be enticed. Main Guy now has bigger problem than before: girl was losing interest, and now he has competition from another guy who is showing a lot of interest in the girl.
Pre-Chorus 2: Tells girl, you don’t want to start over, we’ve been in love for a while now, he won’t love you like I do, I promise I will work twice as hard, I’ll never make you feel neglected again, I’ll do whatever it takes – forever.
Chorus: Repeat (Pleads love, center of his world, etc.)
Bridge: {story ending – story resolution} She believes him, stops seeing new guy, happy ever after, etc.
Chorus: Repeat (Pleads love, center of his world, etc.)

Second verses are the hardest part of writing the lyrics for most writers. Often songwriters unintentionally write the second verse first. When that happens, try making your 1st verse the 2nd verse and write a new 2nd verse. Another reason 2nd verses can be tough is that writers often forget to search for ways to ramp up the problem of the main character. Don’t let the chorus solve the problem completely. Use your second verse to make the main character’s situation tougher than it was before in verse one. Take the story (and character’s troubles) to a higher level. Turn up the heat. This keeps it interesting for the listener too, they’ll love it. It will feel more satisfying when the main character solves the problem in the chorus, (again) or in the bridge. Just like in books, when the challenge gets tougher, readers keep turning pages. It’s the same with songs – listeners will want to keep listening to know how it all works out and ends.



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