Ready for the holiday season? It may be months away as you're reading this, but I'd like you to get into the spirit just for a minute, as I share a little lesson in writing, thanks to today's inspiration: holiday carols.

The key lesson is this: Specific always trumps the abstract. To be sure, the best carols start with a catchy tune. But combined with a pleasing melody are lyrics that create a strong image. For example, here are the famous opening lines of The Christmas Song:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

You can just picture it, can’t you? And, even if you never saw the Rankin and Bass stop-motion TV special, you can visualize Rudolph, too:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows

Nearly every Christmas classic is like that. Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh. All is calm; all is bright. Angels we have heard on high.

Even modern pop carols have strong images: Rockin' around the christmas tree at the Christmas party hop. I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
 underneath the mistletoe last night.

And, although there aren’t a lot of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa songs to choose from, Adam Sandler would be happy to demonstrate how tangible writing works in his satirical song:

Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli
Bowser from Sha Na Na and Arthur Fonzerelli
Paul Newman's half Jewish, Goldie Hawn's half too
Put them together, what a fine lookin' Jew!

Love carols or hate them, but learn how tangible words can make your writing stronger. 


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