A novel rewriting with experience

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a complete rewrite of a novel I wrote for my sister five years ago. I loved the characters, I loved the premise and I had great fun writing it, but in the end it was just a story for my sister. I wanted to create something that would reach out to a broader audience.

So I sat down, and with five more years of experience under my belt, I proceeded to start a story that I enjoy, and I would hope others would enjoy. A theme is already shining through after 20,000 words and the characters have become a lot more developed. It is no longer a simple fantastical adventure journey story, for when I thought about my character’s motives for their actions, I came up blank. In the rewrite I can confidently state that there is reason behind character decisions. They (hopefully) experience emotions that are realistic to the situation that they are in and act with heart as well as head.

When I wrote the first story all those years ago, I had the idea but I didn’t pull it off as well as I could. Why? Because it was the first full novel I had ever finished and I was too excited that I had achieved that rather than having written an especially good story. I didn’t understand people and their motivations as well as I do now and I didn’t read broadly enough to pick up other writing methods other then the typical epic fantasy.

Now, I believe I have sufficient knowledge to tackle the story anew. I’ve experienced more in my own life, travelled, studied and worked but I’ve also experienced more through my reading, opening myself up to other genres and different bodies of work. I still love my epic fantasy but now I read it with a critical eye, rather then a naïve one.

Have you decided to do a complete rewrite of a novel you finished years ago? Or even one you just finished and decided that it didn’t work? I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts on how experience betters writing.

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9 thoughts on “A novel rewriting with experience

    • Hiding away your first attempt would be a good motivator as well. I can see it helping me when I’m having those doubts about my skill as a writer. I’ll pull out the original novel, shudder and look at the current writing with fresh eyes. Thanks for the comment!

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  1. The first novel I ever wrote got published — the winner of the 3-day Novel writing competition. I then wrote five more that have never seen the light of day. Fifteen years later I sold my second novel and have published two more since. What got me there was learning the hard work of re-writing. Now, I plan my books and write them faster, knowing that the real work and the real art comes in the re-writing. Enjoy the experience.

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    • Thanks for the insight. Re-writing is a lot of work, but in a way it’s easier because I know my characters already. I don’t spend a huge amount of time wondering what each of them would do in the situation I put them in. I already know. I am definitely enjoying the writing.

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  2. I remember my first novel was written about five or six years ago. I go back to it occasionally telling myself I’ll rewrite it but it’s such a train wreck, I haven’t even bothered to really try because of the new ideas that come into my head. Sometimes I’ll incorporate ideas and scenes from that story into my new work but I don’t think I’m ever going to go back to it. It’s just way too boring lol

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  3. I have a few ‘novel openings’ that I wrote in childhood. There are some ideas I’ve salvaged, but most of them are too derivative (I was a kid, after all). My first three completed novels were fanfiction, and they aren’t as good as I once considered them. But it’s neat to see how my skill has grown over the past few years, and I deff consider them novels. They strengthened my skills and had much of the same issue as yours – the plot wasn’t bad, but characters did things for no reasons. You’re very hardworking for rewriting something like that 🙂 I don’t think I have the energy to restructure something I’ve set aside for that long.

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    • Fanfiction novels are pretty hard to write. I’ve always thought you really need to nail the characters in order for them to be good. Which is hard when you aren’t the one who created them. Oh, it’s been okay, because it’s like I’m telling an entirely different story, just with the same characters and world. But still requires patience! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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