Flip Method #3 – Extending
Clichés are well-known and relatable. In fact, that’s a large part of the reason that we as songwriters even use them. However, because they’re so well-known, they’re also often stale and overused. In this blog post, we’ll talk about how to add depth to your clichés by extending them.
This blog post aims to summarise the third part of our video “The Crazy Easy Trick to Write Great Lyrics (The Flip Method)’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
What is Extending?
The process of extending clichés involves taking a familiar expression and adding new words or images that are directly related to the original idea. For example, consider the cliché expression “The conversation flowed.” By doubling down on water imagery, we can extend the cliché and instead say “As the conversation flowed, I started to drown in the undercurrent of everything I didn’t understand.” This not only reinforces the water imagery but also subverts the expected meaning of the cliché.
Even a short extension could help shed new light on an old cliché. We could say “The conversation flowed like honey.” Instead of conjuring up smooth, easy dialogue, we now envision a slow, drawn-out exchange that oozes with depth and complexity. By extending clichés, songwriters can challenge a listener’s assumptions, thus keeping them engaged and intrigued.
If you’d like to experiment with this method further, you can download this free PDF eBook entitled “The 5 Best Songwriting Exercises for Writing Great Lyrics”:
How to Practice Extending
In order to practice this, you could Google search the term “Common clichés”, and see what comes up. Then pick a cliché and try to extend it.
As an example, we could pick the cliché “Ate our words”. Instantly when we see this phrase, we make a connection between eating, food and being hungry. Then, we could extend it by saying something like “We were so hungry we ate our words”. This way, we would have created completely new meaning out of a very familiar phrase.
Examples of Extending
An amazing example of extending is Joni Mitchell’s song “Case of You”. The following are some of the lyrics from the chorus:
“You’re in my blood like holy wine
Tastes so bitter and so sweet
I could drink a case of you darling
And still be on my feet”.
By saying she could drink a “Case of you”, she extends on the idea that she thinks of this person like alcohol. Not only that, but she also implies how in love she is with them by saying she would still be on her feet after drinking a case of them. In actuality, it’s impossible to drink a case of any alcohol and still stay standing.
Another artist who is great at doing this, is Taylor Swift. In her song “All Too Well”, she says the line “We were a masterpiece until you tore it all up”. At first, she says that “We were a masterpiece”, which is just a cliché way of saying that something was beautiful or amazing. Then, she extends on this by saying “Until you tore it all up”, which then paints a picture of someone entirely destroying something, implying that the relationship ended badly because of them.
Conclusion: Flip Method #3 – Extending
Clichés don’t have to be entirely avoided. If we instead use them as launchpads and practice extending them, we’ll be able to provide so much more meaning to our songs, thus making them far more memorable to our listeners.
And if you’re interested in more ideas, tools, techniques, and inspiration for your lyric writing make sure to check out this playlist that we have made just for you.
Turn your inspiration into beautiful songs with step-by-step guidance through two professional songwriting methods. By the end of this course, not only will your tool belt be stocked; you’ll have a plan and a method for finishing your songs – all of them: