The fabulous Charlie Jane Anders at io9.com has an unusual suggestion on how to revise your novel: once you've finished your first draft, try rewriting the novel as a short story.
Why would you want to do this? There are a few reasons. For one thing, this allows you to see more clearly what the main arc of your story is. For another, it's a great way to make sure that the things you've decided are subplots are actually subplots — and that you haven't somehow elevated a subplot to "main plot" status while keeping the main plot squished into the space of a subplot. Paring away all the subplots, more or less completely, lets you see what's left. But most of all, this is a way to convince yourself that your protagonist(s) and your story are really epic and perfect as they are — and convincing yourself is half the battle, when it comes to revision.
I'm intrigued. Anyone out there want to give this a shot and report back? I'd be glad to host a guest post on the subject.
What other revision techniques have you tried? Here are some favorites of mine:
-Go through the manuscript and highlight all the dialogue tags ("she said"). Delete as many as you can without sacrificing clarity.
-Read it out loud, to yourself, to your pets, to your partner. To a tape recorder if you're really brave. If it sounds clunky, fix it till it doesn't sound clunky any more.
-Storyboard the entire arc of the novel, scene by scene. What's getting too much "screen time"? What's not getting enough? Does anything feel repetitive, viewed through this "lens?"