I am such an odd duck. I love to revise my books. Mostly I love to revise a book when I'm supposed to be writing another book. But then I love to write a brand new book when I'm supposed to be revising. There is some sort of twisted logic in that I suppose. If you believe in a muse and an internal editor, I have one on each shoulder. They are very competitive and don't like to be ignored while I work with the other. Yes, that probably sounds crazy, but I'm an artist. I get to be nuts.
Let's talk about revisions, most importantly repetition in the work. Part one is the easiest. Keep a personal list of common repeated words. We all have them. Here are a few examples from my list: just, glance, some, that, look, fine, so. Others to look for are began, was, then.
If you haven't already made a list or copied someone else's list, start one now. You will need it later. Even after nearly 20 years of writing, I still have favorite words. I've managed to get rid of felt and began, but others pop up to replace them. Use this list. It's as easy as using the find and replace tool in your word processing program.
Unfortunately, repetitive words are only the beginning of ways in which a writer can repeat themselves in a manuscript.
Part two is harder to spot and may take an second pair of eyes such as a beta reader or critique partner. Revise for repetition in action, thought, feeling and dialog.
I tend to do this in my first drafts. I will write an action or thought in one paragraph and repeat it in the next paragraph using different words. It's as if my creative brain is trying to figure out which way is best to say it. I don't know I'm doing it when I tell the story. It's something I have to catch in revision once the book is done. Sadly the only way to catch this is to break the book down into scenes- I like to do them out of order so that I don't get caught up in the story. Read each scene with a critical eye, looking for places where you hit the reader over the head with how the characters feel or think. It comes down to trusting the reader. Fiction is NOT an essay where you have to tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. This method is fine for exposition papers but tends to slow fiction down.
Next pay attention to dialog. You might like the back and forth of two characters- but keep an eye out for going on too long. I know I tend to have so much fun that I over do. (I am an over the top kind of writer, but revisions help me rein that in and narrow it down so that it stays punchy and fun and does not become well, repetitive.)
There are other things you must do when revising but these two steps can get you started thinking like an editor much to your muse's dismay. Try it next time you are revising and let me know how it worked for you. Cheers~