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 na├»ve 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.