Write Away Magazine - August Edition


The lyric writers magazine

What’s In


You may as well ask “How long is a piece of

string?” or “How do you describe ‘colour’ to

a blindperson?” Because in my own estimation,

there is no definitive answer, except to say

Write it the way you feel it!” I suppose that’s how

it begins for most poets and lyricists.

So what makes a good lyric? Like a chef preparing

a gourmet meal, it all depends on the constituents

(in my case the words) and how they’re

assembled. Just like the art of cuisine, practice

makes perfect and once you learn the basics, you

can diversify and experiment to your heart’s content.

Over the years, I’ve developed my own technique

for writing song lyrics as well as composing

the music, which for me is a blessing in disguise

because I can meld both words and

music into acomplete experience.

Although lyric writing can be free and fluent, in

which the song is built from an idea; a particular

experience or sometimes a political expression,

when it comes to writing for musical theatre, there

is also another discipline which must be learned,

‘characterisation.’ Many of the most successful

musicals are based on plays, novels or motion pictures

i.e. Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet became

‘West SideStory’, Shaw’s Pygmalion turned into

‘My Fair Lady’, Molnar’s Lilliom becam ‘Carousel’,

Gaston Leroux’s famous novel was scored into

‘Phantom of the Opera’, and Victor Hugo’s ‘Les

Miserables’ etc. In the majority of cases the leading

roles are played by great singers, supported in

turn by a large chorus, which in turn calls for

great musical numbers. The songs in these musicals

are generally performed by many (or few)

characters, as solo/duet presentations, or a group

and in a variety of disciplines; to portray grief,

love, happiness, fun, sarcasm or any other way

that communicates emotion.

If you are serious in pursuing a songwriting

career may I suggest you get hold of a book entitled

Song by Song, published 1984 by Ross Anderson,

also buy a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus (my bible)

when you’re looking for alternative words to

express a particular feeling or emotion.

As for lyric writing, ‘Stage Musicals’ are the path I

have followed for the many hundreds of songs

I’ve composed over the years and in way of explanation,

here is a brief synopsis of how I developed

the song lyric for the Lewis Caroll’s character

‘Alice’ in new version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’.


1) As the story tells, Alice is sat under a tree reading

a book, when suddenly a white rabbit hurries

by. The story develops from this moment.

2) When she arrives in Wonderland her first

thoughts are “Who in the world am I?

3) The song needs to pursue this idea i.e Is this all

in her mind or is she daydreaming? Are all of

these characters just a figment of her imagination.

4) Could it be that there are two Alices and if so,

which is the real one? “Am I just plain little Alice,

or am I Alice in Wonderland?” Use this as the

closing line in each verse.

5) The opening line could be “Is this all in my


2nd line “xxxxxxxx”

3rd line “Could this be some wild hallucination?

4th line “xxxxxxxxxxxxx”

5th line “Is all this world created in my head?”

6th line “Am I only dreaming and soundly sleeping

in my bed?

(etc to the closing phrase)

Lines 7&8 “Am I just Alice, plain little Alice, or am

I Alice in Wonderland?”

This is the basic format for this song. The completed

work took me a few more days (& nights)

(Sung by Alice)


Is it all in my imagination

Am I playing part of someone else

Could this be some wild hallucination

Of how I want to see myself

Is all this world created in my head

Am I awake, or soundly sleeping in my bed

Will I ever really understand

Am I just Alice, plain little Alice

Or am I Alice in Wonderland

16 www.writeawaymagazine.co.uk

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