I am in the thick of revising my debut novel, FAITHFUL (out next spring from Puffin), and I want to share some discoveries I'm making about the whole revision thing.
First, my editor, Jen Bonnell, is brilliant. She has pinpointed issues both large and small, and I think the novel is growing better with every pass. I like to look at revision as a chance to make the work perfect, a time to put my own ego aside, and "re - envision" the work.
Here's discovery #1: I had to restructure a large section of backstory. Jen helped me break the section down into discrete scenes, and then to think about layering only the most critical of these scenes back into the work as flashbacks. This both enriches the work and gets rid of that bogged down initial stuff.
Discovery #2: Ooo - this one kind of hurts but is most rewarding. I'm retyping the entire manuscript. That's right. First I print out a chapter and proofread it on the paper (I don't know why, but proofing on paper works better than proofing on the computer screen). Then I retype it, bit by bit. If I start typing too fast, I take a break (craft a blog post, get some coffee...). I have rediscovered my love for my character, and been able to go deeper into her head with this technique, which is slow but powerful.
Discovery #3: After finishing a chapter, I read it out loud. Slowly. To my dog, or the empty room when he gets tired of it. I try to hear the cadences and the rhythms. I find a lot of mistakes and slow spots.
I really recommend this wonderful book, NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS, by Darcy Pattison, too. She has tons of revision tips.
Back to work!