There’s something I’ve been doing for quite a while now with a work-in-progress Sonic fan fiction of mine, but found it hard to describe when asked about it. It's been almost entirely intuitive for me until very recently, and every time I tried to explain what I was doing, it sounded much more complicated than it really is. But it’s about cutting to the core of what you’re writing, so you can maintain plot and character cohesion over time /story progress while keeping the flow and making characters appear "alive" /like real people.
...To be able to improvise, invent and compromise right, I have to have a solid idea of what the core premise of the story (and by recursion, each character) is. It's tricky when it's a fan fic - because I already have the "who, where and when"! - but I grew to feel that I can go back and "bypass" the latter two, defining that core-of-story, and then go ”outward" from it and decide what surface detail (such as locations and order of events) I want to keep, and which don't really matter.
This goes for characters as well; once the core is set, some specific traits can be dropped without hurting the character (quite the contrary; too many arbitrary cute /cool quirks make a character a walking pile of gimmicks rather than a person).
And I can play around a lot with the WHY, leading to new thoughts. That’s my ”deeper” reason for loving fan works, I guess. The new perspectives you can get from watching the core ideas through someone else’s eyes.
...I’ve lately cut a whole lot of ideas that were in the way and added a heap of conditions that didn't add to the story. For those of you who have wondered what the heck is taking so long with the prep for the draft of that fic, this is what. Even when I thought I was being systematic about it, I was STILL keeping ideas in that were holding the story back, just because I had once gotten hung up on including them.
I’m right up in the middle of axing all that, and it’s kinda focus-consuming. Plus I am doing much the same thing with my own life, to break out of a depression and deal with some long-standing anxiety issues. Which is why I’m not too communicative because phrasing myself is really hard for me when I’m doing this stuff. Sorry ’bout that. ^^;
Sorry about the way I ramble when I finally give a life sign, too. :p ~ Gecko