I finished the first draft of my second novel in Nov., and put it aside to ferment for a month. Then I took it out and read through it as quickly as possible. This is not so quick for me—I’m a slow reader, and besides, it was the holiday season. But I read through it, doing no editing, only flagging pages that might need an edit. This went well. I’ve covered 177 pages so far, and I've only forgotten what I intended on one of the edit flags.
The main purpose in reading the manuscript “in one sitting,” was to revise for structure changes. I enjoy my own work, but I tried to be critical. I found two things that I thought came under the category of structural edits. One was a scene that needed to be moved. It was good stuff, and provides the detective with clues or confirmation of something he suspected, but I had it in a spot where it slowed down the action. I moved it to the right spot.
The other was challenging. At the Bouchercon this fall in Cleveland, I attended a panel of folks who set their fiction in the good old noir days—the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s--and one of the panelists, Sally Wright, straddles the ‘60s and ‘40s with WWII memories in her Ben Reese novels. She said something to the effect of “War memories come in nightmares.”
Well, I had a long flashback sequence of my heroes, Frank, the P.I., Max, his one-eyed attorney, and Amanda, their mutual love interest, during the Spanish Civil War. I decided to re-write the first half of it as one of Frank’s recurring Spanish Civil War nightmares.
I didn’t change too much to accomplish this. I wondered if I needed a special dream voice, or weird colors, or something ethereal to make it a dream, but it was a nightmare based on Frank's real memory, and I told it straight.
Of course, I’ll probably have to wait until the next read through to know for sure if this worked. But I like it.