The Goodjelly Blog

On Balls in the Air

Jul 19, 2021

By Christine Carron

I’m learning to juggle. I’m about three weeks in. My process, for the most part, has been (a) throw balls into the air, and (b) watch balls fall to the earth. On occasion, my hands interrupt the falling. A joyful squeal may have (okay, totally did) come out of me the other day when I managed to get three balls going and then caught said three balls for a total of five times. 

I got this whole tossing balls side trip started because I'm taking Jim Kwik's speed reading class on Mindvalley. Juggling is a recommended activity. It helps with relaxed...

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On Tutu Moments and Rocking Your ZPD

Jul 12, 2021

By Christine Carron

In writing, as with anything we do, there’s the desired output and the process we go through to achieve the desired output. Let’s say the desired output is a commercially successful novel, i.e., we want to earn some scratch (gasp!) for our artistic labor. Now, for most of us when we first start out, despite being both literate and inundated with stories our entire lives, we soon come to the stark, humbling realization that there’s a gargantuan gap between appreciating a great story and writing one. 

To get ourselves across that gap, we can wing...

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On Avoiding 1996 British TV Crime Drama Dialogue in Action Scenes

Jul 05, 2021

By Christine Carron

I am a sucker for British crime dramas so I feel a tad bit guilty for what I am about to do: dissect a scene from one (that shall remain unnamed) in order to highlight dialogue techniques that are probably best left to the small screen—and retro small screen at that. 

Why? Because these techniques create scenes that are unrealistic and overwrought. They make it near impossible for viewers, or readers, to stay immersed in the dreamscape of the story. That’s exactly what happened to me watching the scene in question. I was no longer in the story...

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On Action Hunks and Narrative Leaps

Jun 28, 2021

By Christine Carron

Sometimes I order books and they sit unread for years. Others I inhale immediately. How to Become an Extreme Action Hero by Elizabeth Streb was an inhaler. 

Before proceeding, let’s be clear. I am not an extreme action hero. I once took a boot camp style exercise class, where the trainer threw a rope around my waist and screamed at me to run, Run, RUN, while she pulled back on the rope. I ran, Ran, RAN right away from that class. 

Despite my lack of action hero tendencies, I ordered Streb’s book because I would soon be making my way to Brooklyn for...

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On Creating Peak Story Moments

Jun 21, 2021

By Christine Carron

In The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath explore why certain brief experiences jolt us, even transform us—and how we can learn to create such elevated moments in our life and work. 

We writers, of course, endeavor to do the same thing in our stories: create peak, unforgettable narrative moments. Which is why so much of Heath and Heath’s book can be applied to storytelling. According to the authors, there are three key aspects to creating a peak moment:

  1. Boost sensory appeal, which they...
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On Cultivating Completion Artistry

Jun 14, 2021

By Christine Carron

Thirty pages. Thirty pages to go to get through the rough-cut of this revision I have been working on since October. It’s got me thinking about us writers and how, since writing is such a long game, we are in what can feel like a constant state of longing to complete: Get this book done. Get this revision done. Get this chapter done. Get this scene done. Get my x number of words in/writing hours per day in. Etc. Etc. Etc. It’s like we are in a never-ending, fractal maze of completions.

Luckily, fractals—the repeating beauty of patterns found in anything...

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On Hard-Passing the Hoax

Jun 07, 2021

By Christine Carron

In college, I applied to be a Resident Assistant (RA). I had to participate in a panel interview—me facing off against three senior RAs. During the interview, we were discussing how much I enjoy dancing. One of the interviewers said, “I can’t dance. I have two left feet.” To which I responded, “Anyone can dance.” A whole lot of disbelief and dismissal came my way, including a comment that no one could teach any of them how to dance. 

“I can,” I said. 

A bold statement, yes, but I stand by it. They, however, were...

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On Supercharging Your Chapters

May 31, 2021

By Christine Carron

Many years ago, I attended a session on revision during Grubstreet’s annual Muse and the Marketplace conference led by Ann Hood. A tip I learned in that session remains one of the most practical writing tips I’ve ever received. It was all about what causes flat chapters (and scenes) and how to avoid them. 

She referred to this technique as her Plus/Minus System, and she credited the framework to a principle she learned in Robert McKee’s screenwriting class.* Here is the tip: A chapter reads as flat if it starts and ends on the same emotional...

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On Directed Reverie, Stress, and Protecting Your Writerly Headspace

May 24, 2021

By Christine Carron

The other day, I came across a phrase that I adore: directed reverie. Officially, it’s a therapy technique to help someone release intense emotions. But those two words together struck me as a perfect description of the headspace that helps us writers create stories—basically daydreaming with a mission. 

Here’s the deal: Stress is not a friend to the directed reverie headspace. There’s an inverse relationship between stress and maintaining the dreamy yet purposefully creative mental/emotional state that supports our ability to write...

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On Finding Your Writerly Bee Space

May 17, 2021

By Christine Carron

Bee space. A distance of three-eighths of an inch, and the amount of space honeybees will leave open in a hive. More than that and they span it with honeycomb. Less than that and they plug the empty space with propolis. It’s sort of like the bee equivalent of Goldilocks’ just right epiphany, but not quite. 

Goldilocks’ just right aha was about a static concept—that perfectly-sized-for-her bowl of porridge. Bee space is about movement, maneuverability. About having the room (not too much, not too little) to go where they need to go. 

All...

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