A Different look at Disney...

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OK, this is a wacky idea. It might not work. But I'm willing to give it a shot anyway, to see if it will.

Communities which are based upon a fandom of one kind or other are some of the strongest, most loyal communities around. Consider any popular TV show, especially science fiction. When a sci-fi community gets large enough, inevitably the fans start to write their own fictional stories (often called fanfic) that are unofficial, yet sometimes truly excellent and exciting work. This process was especially apparent in the Star Trek community, and by the 90s, it was advanced enough to warrant a collection of fanfic published for the masses. Called Strange New Worlds, it was conceived as a general call to all fans: send us your short stories, we'll pick the best, and the winners would be published.

I think the time is ripe in the Disney park community for something similar. It's true that when compared to science fiction communities, ours focuses less on fan fiction-writing. But we're just as fervent, there are a lot of us, and many of us are undoubtedly talented writers. So perhaps it's time to harvest that.

How about a contest? You write and submit stories to me by email, and the best one will win a prize (I'll cobble together a few books and collectibles). Best of all, I'll run the winning story in a future MiceAge column. Who knows? If we get several good ones, I may just make it a running feature every so often.

There are some ground rules:

  • Length: between 5 and 15 pages double-spaced is preferred, but as short as one page or as long as 25 is acceptable.
  • Deadline: all submissions are due by September 1, 2008.
  • Setting: all stories must involve Disneyland in Anaheim. Or, at least part of the action must be there.
  • Genre: all genres are open. You can send in drama, superheroes, action-adventure, horror, ghost stories, mystery, romance, thrillers, crime drama, political drama, and even science-fiction, time travel, or anything else that occurs to you.
  • Time frame: open. It can be set in the past, present, or the future.
  • Restrictions: no Disney characters can be mentioned at all, and do not use real Cast Members. Also, even the fictional CMs cannot be portrayed nefariously. If in doubt, do not include anything questionable, because it won't win.
  • Required component: every story must mention a happy person, a happy coincidence, and a happy ending.
  • The final requirement above is to see how creative you can be in slipping in the references! I got this idea from The Plot Thickens, a collection of mystery short stories with the requirement that every story had to mention a thick fog, a thick book, and a thick steak. Everything else was up to the writers. The diversity of stories was great, and the reader experience included a kind of fun hunt for the required components (some of which were central, and some of which were mentioned only very briefly). Sure, it was a gimmick, but it was fun and it worked.

    Your mention of a happy person, a happy coincidence, and a happy ending don't have to come in that order, and most authors will spread them out over the story rather than mention them all at once. Note that you don't have to actually *have* a happy ending, just that you must mention the words "happy ending." The rest of the sentence is up to you, and could in fact turn out to be a dark and pessimistic sentence if worded the right way! A few authors might be able to get away with paraphrasing or just leaving the required terms implied, but most will use the required phrases verbatim.

    Before you jump to your keyboards, let's talk about what makes for good fiction. If you're new at this, you might be thinking first about an interesting plot. While a great plot can help, truly great fiction writing comes from well thought-out drama and characterization. Consider the possibilities of a bereaving family visiting Disneyland, or perhaps a romance slowly blossoming through a day of standing in lines. How about the friction of a long-simmering jealousy and competition between two people finally coming to a head during a day at the park, which was supposed to be so carefree? If you're just dying to do a "Die-Hard at Disneyland" type of scenario, just make sure the characters are not an afterthought. Characters are what make readers care about the story! Make the characters interesting, and everything else will fall into place.

    Excited yet? Me too! Time to get cracking and start those fingers typing! We have the opportunity to finally start a fanfic community for Disney park fans. I can't wait to see your submissions and ideas. I really hope this flies.

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    Kevin Yee may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally.

    2008 Kevin Yee

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    Kevin's Disney Books

    Kevin is the author of many books on Disney theme parks, including:

    • Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member provides the first authentic glimpse of what it's like to work at Disneyland.
    • Tokyo Disney Made Easy is an unofficial travel guide to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySeas, written to make the entire trip stress-free for non-speakers of Japanese.
    • Magic Quizdom offers an exhaustive trivia quiz on Disneyland park, with expansive paragraph-length answers that flesh out the fuller story on this place rich with details.
    • 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland is a list-oriented book that covers ground left intentionally unexposed in the trivia book, namely the tributes and homages around Disneyland, especially to past rides and attractions.
    • 101 Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World follows the example of the Disneyland book, detailing tributes and homages in the four Disney World parks.
    • The Unofficial Dining Guide to Walt Disney World provides current menus and prices for all restaurants at Walt Disney World parks and hotels, including Downtown Disney and even the non-Disney restaurants in the area around the Disney property. Updated several times within each year.

    More information on the above books, along with ordering options are at this link. Kevin is currently working on other theme park related books, and expects the next one to be published soon.

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