So here's a bit more information on my revision system, and why I do the things I do:
- Print the MS for a fresh look: I can and do make edits on the screen as I'm working on a draft. But for a full-scale revision, where I'm assessing all of the different aspects of the novel at once, I print a hard copy. I then DO NOT alter the digital MS until ALL REVISIONS are complete on paper. This takes self control, people. But it is *so* worth it. By the time you finish editing on paper, you're ready to hit the keyboard again.
- Color-code for frequency and balance: I use different colored tabs to track different characters, or thematic elements, or plot lines, so that I can physically see how they are distributed throughout the MS. If I have forty pages with no orange tab, I know I'm missing an opportunity for greater continuity in the story. I usually only track elements that are targeted for revision (there are a dozen different post-it colors available).
- Group for organization: I put different types of notes on different edges of the MS. You can see the colored flags on the right margin. The left margin has flags of another color--these are things I need to come back to, stuff I still need to address or can't figure out. Once I deal with those to-do flags, I remove them. My actual edits to the MS are on the page or on post-its along the bottom edge, that way they stay out of the way of reading the MS.
- Edit on Post-its for freedom of thought: Writing on the MS bugs me. If I get an edit wrong, and cross it out, and re-edit, only to cross it out again, I have a mess. So I edit on post-its. I can use a million post-its if I want to. They're cheap!
- Transcribe notes for further polish: When I'm finally done with my ten million post-it notes, I'm ready to transfer all of these hard-won revision jewels into the computer. And as I transcribe my notes, I of course react to them, and tweak them, and by the time I'm done I've not only revised, but polished those changes.
This system works for me because it evolved from my work in product design. Back in those days, I planned huge research reports and strategic line assessments, and I used a similar revision process. I'd print out mini-slides of my presentation, make notes on them, and then edit the document. My interns really loved me for this (ie: they wanted to kill me for having to print out slide miniatures for 500pg presentations). But I find the process invaluable now.
So, as you revise, take note of the systems that appeal to you. Do post-its make you happy, too? Or do you love the layered files in Scrivener? We each have our own crazy habits--the key is in figuring out what works for you.