You can learn a lot about good writing from listening to holiday carols.

 

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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