TIP ~ INKAS ~ #4

A quick reminder to followers, and an introduction for new readers, INKAS are a way I created to list the essentials of certain types of writing.


There are roughly 20 different INKAS, and I’ve been introducing them one by one for writers who are unclear about the differences amongst them. (What are INKAS? …..  TIP ~ INKAS ~ #1) Collectively, for me, Story refers to any tale told – orally or in writing – and told in any form. It can be a true story, it can be done as prose, poetry, or in song. But breaking Story down into its different forms is necessary so that writers put the correct “ingredients” together, and also know when to break the rules a little. That’s how cooking works. You follow the recipe until you understand that type of cooking, then you experiment with other ingredients. Sometimes the cake rises, and sometimes it falls, but you’ve become a cook – or even a chef – who knows what they’re doing.

Here are links to the previous posts about specific INKAS.

Short Story …..TIP ~ INKAS ~ #1.1

Children’s Story & Children’s Story with Illustrations ….. TIP ~ INKAS ~ #2

Poetry …..  TIP ~ INKAS ~ #3

Today I want to talk about INKA #4:  Song Lyrics


Like poetry, songs express our innermost thoughts and feelings; they just do it with musical accompaniment. And sometimes the music is all there is.

Songs can tell a story or  describe a single moment hidden a person’s soul. However, song lyrics can’t be written same way as a poem. Song lyrics must go with the music, coordinating rhythm and mood so that the song makes emotional sense. Not to say a poem can’t become a song. It’s often a good place to start. But there are other considerations.

The various styles of music – country, jazz, opera, popular, show tunes – use different styles of lyrics in their songs. Some jazz songs have no specific lyrics at all but rely on improvised sounds from the performer, referred to as ‘scat’, that may or may not have included actual words. Modern hip hop combines vocal sounds – or beats – with  lyrics that are spoken rather than sung, rap. These lyrics are vastly different in both content and style from other styles.

There are even further breakdowns within the main genres. County includes bluegrass. Jazz includes blues and Motown. Opera encompasses a lighter version, operetta, and a more modern style, rock opera. Music keeps evolving, too. A writer wanting to write lyrics for a particular style needs to study that style for length, emotion, pace, and even the types of vocabulary most often used.

It only makes sense. I’ve belabored the point a bit, because it seems to be what new writers forget. If you want your writing to succeed in a given genre (musical or otherwise) you must first get to know that genre inside and out. Then, when you can’t get the sound of it out of your head, sit down to write.

Time for a commercial:      “Do You Know Where YOUR Story Is?”

Is it a germ of an idea? Is it a rough draft or work-in-progress? Is it on its way to a publisher? Writers need to keep track of their work, and knowing where you are in the process is part of it.

I’ve started a free newsletter on Substack  that will cover all aspects of Story – where it begins, where it goes, and how it gets there. Topics will delve into the purpose and value of writing groups, and the newsletter will feature guest posts from members of Off the Page & Under the Radar. the writing group I’m part of.  In addition, there will be samples of our writing, maybe even a serialized story for your entertainment.   Please take a look at “Do You Know Where YOUR Story Is?” today.