- Theme. Try to reduce your story's theme to one sentence. If you can't, it may not be focused enough yet.
- Favorites. Don't play favorites with your favorite phrases. Try to objectively step away and see if they're really necessary for the story. If not, get rid of them.
- Characters. Are each of them necessary and relevant to the plot? Can they be combined or even deleted? Are they fleshed out enough, especially the main character?
- Motivation. Why do your characters act the way they do? Is it arbitrary, or necessary? Character development should naturally flow from a combination of their actions and the plot.
- Dialogue. Is it full of common words that aren't necessary? Are the words being said actually important and moving the story forward? Can you identify each character by what he is saying?
- Tags. Replace most of your tags with "said" and "asked." Actions really do speak louder than words. "I can't believe you ruined my lego creations," Shawn sobbed loudly. "Why do you have to be so mean?" he added remorsefully. OR... "I can't believe you ruined my lego creations." Tears fell from Shawn's cheeks. "Why do you have to be so mean?"
- Verbs. Use strong verbs to keep the action active, not passive. Even in the example above, the tears are being active. I could make the character Shawn more active by simply saying that he cried (not sobbed AND added). It also deleted two adverbs.
- Show, don't tell. I'm sure whole workshops have been dedicated to this. Simply put, it means show the reader through strong writing of using strong verbs so the reader can actually see the action. Sometimes telling is necessary, but it should be short and have a purpose.
- Senses. The five senses intensify the experiences of the characters for the reader.
And if this isn't broad enough for your own revision, definitely take a step back and play the what if game!
What is your favorite way to revise?
Keep on keepin' on...