Step #1 is Look at your work objectively.
Step #2 is See the big picture.
Step #3 is Write until it's true.
If you've done all that, it's time for Step #4: MAKE THE WRITING SHINE.
This is the step most people think of when they hear the word, "revise." This is red-pen-correction stuff. This is The Elements of Style and Essentials of English (books I consult quite often while revising). At this point, your ideas are solid. It's time to make sure you've expressed those ideas in the best possible way.
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Are your sentences in the best order? Are they clear?
2. Have you chosen the best words?
- Look out for word echoes (using the same word too often, too close together)
- Replace adverbs with more specific verbs.
- Try to stay active with your language.
- Be true to your characters' voices.
- Don't use two words if one will do.
4. Have you searched for punctuation and grammatical errors?
5. Have you gotten rid of typos? (Try reading your manuscript backwards to catch these.)
If you've done all this, you are ready for the last step in the revision process.
Are you ready?
It's a doozy!
Step #5: REPEAT.
Yep, you read that right. Repeat. Go back to Step #1 and begin the process again. Each revision pass will bring you closer and closer to the amazing manuscript you have in your head. And when you really and truly don't know how to make it any better? That's when it's time to submit it to an agent or editor.