Use Action Verbs in Your Songwriting

Nancy B. Alston

Action verbs lift your songwriting as they abandon passive verbs. Passive verbs are death to most songs. Learning about active and passive verbs is important to songwriting.

In songwriting you want your characters to take action and be exciting and interesting. Use verbs to create action, excitement and interest in your song.

The voice of a verb is determined by if the subject of the sentence directly receives the action that the verb creates.

In these statements the focus of the thought is the actions (slammed, swallowed and sold) and characters who acted.

Jim slammed the door.

The old man swallowed his medicine.

Jennifer sold her house.

Here are the examples stated in the passive voice.

The door was slammed by Jim.

The medicine was swallowed by the old man.

Jennifer’s house was sold by Jennifer

Notice how in the passive voice the people and their actions play second fiddle to the object of the action. The door, medicine and house become more important than the actions or the people.

In songwriting avoid the passive voice like the plague because it will kill your song. Use active voice and make your characters more dynamic, exciting and interesting. It gets the listener much more involved in your song.

The passive verbs you should try to avoid using in your song are: be, is, are, am, was, being, been, and were. Re-state your lyrics with active verbs that create more action. Your listeners will likely appreciate it and you if you do.

Think about developing your verbs and how to use them. Get in the habit of doing an action check on all your verbs and re-write as necessary.

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