I hate revising. I need revision, but I abhor the job. No one ever wrote anything that didn’t need at least a little editing. My process is to read the work first and flag any problems I find while reading. I confess, I don’t actually read the piece myself, I make the computer read the text. This method finds typos that I fix as I go. It also locates places where I made errors in grammar or where I left out words. The first read-through is the first step in revising the work.
That’s where you find the major mistakes. Flag them and rewrite them after the read-through. That isn’t as painful or tedious as line-by-line revision, which is where you go through the piece one sentence at a time and determine whether the sentence works as written or needs to be revised.
The work is boring, but must be done. There are tools you can use to help you along. One of them is Autocrit, an online revision tool. You must pay for the tool, but it is worth the money, in my opinion. Autocrit checks for slow passages. I’m not sure how the software determines what is slow and what isn’t, but when I check the work, it’s most often because I used too many words to say something. There are the built in grammar and spell checks in most word processing software.
They can be quite useful, this is most important if you are not sure about the grammar. Read the work aloud or tell your computer read the text. If something sounds awkward, it is. Fix it. Doing revision one sentence at a time, is a long process but this is the process which will help you find and fix problems. The price of writing well is tedious revision.
If you can’t afford Autocrit, read your piece one sentence at a time. Read your work to yourself, then aloud. Ask yourself if this sentence adds to the work or pads the text. If the sentence pads the piece, cut the sentence. If it adds to the piece do further analysis. Is the meaning conveying what you want? If not rewrite the text. If so, examine your words again. Have you expressed the idea before, even in a different way? If you did, cut the sentence. If you haven’t, check for adverbs those pesky -ly words that should be used as little as possible. I tend to cut them all but I do keep them in dialog. People use -ly words in speech. Do you need every word in the sentence? The words, that and just, are often not necessary. If your sentence means the same without those words, cut them. When you think you have finished with the sentence, move on to the next sentence and do the same process again. This is how good writing is made.