When Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyric for this song, he followed the lead from a line in the dialogue that Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse wrote in their script, describing Maria's flighty ways in the Abbey. In particular, he was taken by the detail of her wearing curlers in her hair under her wimple. Hammerstein asked if he could incorporate their dialogue into the song, and they allowed him to do so because "if you tell a story in a song, it's so much better." When writing the lyric, Hammerstein knew he needed adjectives for the nuns to describe Maria. He admitted that his vocabulary was never big, but the simple adjectives he used to describe Maria's character proved a success.