As a creative I find it hard to experience something magical and not wonder at the process that created the result. As I sit in the Orlando International airport waiting to board my return flight, I find myself doing exactly that – reflecting on just what exactly did Disney do to create the magic we experienced the last seven days? What, as a writer, could I learn from my vacation experience? The answer is oh, so many things!
#1 Details Count
While we walked along a path to the Little Mermaid themed ride, I noticed seashells were pressed into the pavement. These shells were in no way necessary for the functioning or success of the attraction we were about to ride, but their thoughtfulness mattered to me. The same could be said about a thousand other details around Magic Kingdom, or any of the parks we visited, and the same is true for your writing as well. Thoughtful detail additions can take your work to a new level. What seashells can you sprinkle on your story path?
#2 Make Wait Time Interesting
Unless you’re writing the next Mission Impossible screenplay, your story needs time to build up, time to get all the right people, in all the right places, with just the right emotions, circumstances and motives on board. However, this doesn’t mean that the exposition and rising action of your story need to be boring.
While at Epcot, my family and I waited over and hour to ride Test Track, a thrill ride designed by Chevrolet. During this wait time we looked at Chevrolet concept cars, watched interviews with design team members, and digitally designed our very own car including body shape, color, wheels and accessories. And then we got on the ride. To be honest, the waiting was not only as memorable as the ride, but the ride was better because of the experience prior to the 65 mph rush at the height of the ride’s excitement.
Let me explain it to you in the reverse. Due to our fantastic travel planner, we were among the first in line at Magic Kingdom and also at the rope drop when the attractions beyond Main Street USA opened. We followed a small segment of park-goers directly to one of the newest rides in the park, The Seven Dwarves Mine Train, where we rushed through the weaving line lanes, passed the interactive exhibits those waiting in line would have experienced and straight onto the ride. Despite enjoying the ride and skipping the wait, I couldn’t help but feel we missed something.
Wait time is important. Make the most of it in your manuscript by providing relevant background information, meaningful experiences and building anticipation for the big event.
#3 Setting is Still So Important
Setting has always been my favorite story element. Perhaps that is the social studies minor in me. While at Disney the importance of setting the scene was driven home on a whole new level. Disney creates setting a dozen different ways that inspired me to dig deep and think about adding these setting details in my own work.
6. Food and beverage options
8. Style of walkways
10. Time period influences
11. Color schemes that set the mood/tone
Much like creating a masterful work of written art, there can be a lot of pressure to create and live out the perfect Disney vacation. For our family, a Disney vacation is probably a once-in-my-kids’-childhoods experience. My husband and I had one shot, seven days, to make lifetime memories, not to mention make the most of the massive travel budget we saved years to afford. So yeah, there was a little pressure.
Writing a book can feel similar. It takes a long time to write a book. Heck, it can take a long time to perfect a short story. And if your mortgage depends on its success, yeah, you might feel some pressure to get it done and get it done well.
By nature, I am a pantser-styled writer, allowing my story to travel where the wind blows or my characters tell me they’d like to go. But it isn’t the most effective way to arrive at “the end” and it isn’t a great Disney planning method either. With Fast Passes and dining reservations booked months in advance, it almost isn’t possible to just show up at Disney anymore. But, with a travel agent and an app on a smart phone, you can successfully navigate all there is to see and do in a snap and keep your sanity too.
Consider the same for your writing project. Ask for help. Find a tool that works for you. Help yourself travel to the end with out hating the journey.
There is no doubt about it. My family and I had an incredible vacation, one we will be talking about for years to come. It truly was magical. In addition to the amazing memories, fun souvenirs and likely epic-sized photo album, I hope that my experiences and keen observation can help me transform this trip into some story magic of my own.
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