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
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
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
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.