Storytelling & Songwriting: A Beginner’s Guide

The best songs feel familiar yet exotic. This balance helps you avoid songs that are either too cliche, boring, or far-fetched for you to relate to.

How do you maintain such a delicate equilibrium?

You’ll need to know how to write a story to strike the perfect balance between comforting stories you’ve heard before and new, exciting stories. If you ever master this art, you may need years, but it’s never too late to start.

I believe that using stories in your music will improve your songwriting and keep your audience’s attention. Let’s start by exploring why stories are so effective in songs.

Why is storytelling so powerful?

It is a way to make a statement. As an artist, you want to convey a message through your music and create your persona.

Stories are a way to communicate a message. They help you convey that message through a narrative that is outside your perspective but reflects to you, the storyteller.

Second, tales are more memorable than lyrics without context or narrative arc. For words to appeal to a wide range of listeners, they must be presented in a logical flow and resolved with the dramas set up.

When we reflect on our lives, we often recall phrases, jingles, and stories from our youth. These songs have left a lasting impression and are linked to memories from those times. The best songs are sure to do the same.

Thirdly, storylines create emotions that seem to come out of nowhere. You never know who’s going to be affected by your story. A personal story about struggle may tap into an experience that the listener has had and make them feel something. Storytelling is an ancient art that helps us express these emotions.

Stories build connections. This is similar, but we can all relate. Have you ever listened to music and felt as if the singer was speaking directly to you?

This is how songwriting works. Stories can create connections and bonds between strangers, making it seem as if you’ve known the artist or characters your entire life.

How to tell a good story

Let’s go back a little. Let’s discuss how to create a story using the traditional, classic sense. Every good story is composed of three parts.

Act 1

In the first part of your tale, you will introduce your hero—or protagonist—and establish the current status quo. It would be best if you laid a solid foundation for the events that will follow. You can describe the “inciting event” that starts the story or keep it for later reference.

Act I, in general, is a relatively simple stage during which the audience or listener is still getting acquainted with the characters. It’s important to know who is telling the story and which side we are on.

Act I should be changed, either by forcing it or by provoking it. This change may not be successful at first, and in fact, it could cause more ripples in the original foundation. But that’s okay because Act II will bring conflict and uncertainty.

Act II

We’re now in the meat and potatoes of the story. The story is now in its meat.

Conflicts of sentiment or moral nature are essential to any great story. Conflict is the obstacle that the hero must overcome to achieve their goal. Often, the first round of decisions taken in response to sudden changes in Act 1 can cause extra conflict. Characters will experience even more turmoil in Act 2.

In the middle of your story, you may see our hero experience a rising-action moment. This is the point when the pressure of risk starts to build, and one has to decide whether to take a chance. The pressure to act has just gotten a lot heavier. There’s no turning back.


At the end of the story, the hero resolves the conflict, which has subsided, and the story is over.

Act III is all about closure. It’s where you start answering your story’s major questions, looking ahead, and reflecting on how we’ve progressed.

How do you start using stories in your songwriting?

All of the above is subject to modification. Every storyteller has a preference for the way things should go or how they would like to shape a plot or characters’ journeys. These are only the basic building materials. How you choose to use them is up to you.

Here are a few ideas on how to start incorporating these elements into your music.

1. Never stop generating ideas

is the first step in utilizing storytelling to create songs. It would be best if you always kept your ideas. Keep your ideas, no matter how stupid or irrelevant they may seem, when you first think of them. You never know what you may need.

I always carry a small notebook with me (yes, I still use pen and paper). I take notes on everything I see and any ideas that come to my mind. The beginning of a story is usually a simple concept that becomes more complex over time. You never know when inspiration will strike.

Write down one idea per day in your journal for the next thirty days. This will improve your observational skills and stimulate your subconscious’s creativity. Freewriting is a great way to get started.

2. Your challenges can be an inspiration

We have all faced obstacles, conflicts, and struggles in our lives as human beings. These can be the basis of your next story!

It may seem impossible to think that the challenges you have faced are relevant or interesting to others, but this is not true. Songs should be universally known and instantly recognizable.

What did you do? What did you do to overcome them? What did you do? When did you decide to overcome this challenge?

You don’t have to tell the whole story. These are just ideas you can use to start developing a story that fits your themes. You can’t think of anything? You can ask a family member or friend to share a story with you! If you ask nicely, people will be happy to share their stories with you.

3. Start writing

You indeed need to start writing. Start writing now with a pen and paper or your laptop. If you prefer, you can set up a schedule for yourself to write at regular times.

The more you write, the better you will get at finding meaning and connections in your thoughts and ideas. You’ll improve simply by doing more.

There is nothing better than actually doing the work. Writing every day for 30 days will improve your writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *