My Favorite Things: Vivid Writing in Action


My daughters have a new favorite song at bedtime: “My Favorite Things.” The song, of course, is by Rodgers and Hammerstein and was featured in “The Sound of Music” (1965). One of the striking features of “My Favorite Things” is the vivid images conjured by the lyrics. The song is a perfect example of how good writing utilizes details and specifics.

Here are the lyrics:

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;

Brown paper packages tied up with strings;

These are a few of my favorite things.

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels;

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;

These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes;

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes;

Silver-white winters that melt into springs;

These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites, When the bee stings,

When I’m feeling sad,

I simply remember my favorite things,

And then I don’t feel so bad.”

The details in “My Favorite Things” are so arresting that you get very specific pictures in your mind. That’s the power of the song. How can you not love “Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings”? How beautiful is that? It’s also a reminder to all of us who write for a living that providing details and writing with specifics in mind is the best kind of writing, whether you’re writing a business memo or creating a classic show tune.

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