Normally, when an author sets about writing a story, one of two things happens.
One is that she has an entire novel in which to build her world, establish the characters, create foreshadowing, and reveal the backstory.
The other is that she's writing for an audience that's already familiar with the story world for which she's writing a fanfiction, so the worldbuilding, character establishment and backstory are already done for her.
In this writing exercise, neither of those was in play. I'd been asked to undertake a most unusual challenge: writing a very short fanfiction, featuring an original character from a manga world and set in a sci-fi TV series, for a person who was unfamiliar with BOTH stories.
The result was that I had to pack a HUGE amount of information into very few words. Every description had to convey not just the tone and feel of the scene, but also information about the characters, species, setting and history that was needed not just for that scene, but to understand the basics of the story itself.
Every silent musing on the part of the characters had to reveal a bit of their backstory, fears, personality and motivations. There couldn't be any pointless filler; every word had to count.
And through it all, I had to make sure that I was actually telling a story, not just delivering an overly busy info-dump.
The result was possibly some of the best writing I've ever done. Not polished to the point where I'd be willing to publish it, but so good that I'm planning to take this relationship and scenario and turn it into a novel.
Do you think you'd try an exercise like that? If so, which story/stories would you do it for?