Here’s the hard part. There is no particular order or steps for what you should revise in each layer. A quick Google search will reveal a variety of checklists from attention grabber to setting detail, but which do you revise first?
My advice, after you’ve gotten down the first draft, is to ask yourself, what does my character want, and in each scene are they moving toward that desire or away from it? Their movement toward their desire should be thwarted at times, and they themselves should have some trepidation or resistance to change. By the end of the story, the character should have changed, not necessarily for the better. They can go from bad to worse. They can go from stagnant to stuck forever. But there needs to be a change.
Next, you might come back and ask yourself if you have externalized the conflict. The conflict shouldn’t happen all inside their heads or via thought. Instead of having someone think about how annoying a friend is, have the friend come in and do something that annoys them. Also, the resolution shouldn’t be a mere change in thinking-it should be prompted by some external action or event. In Jane Eyre, she doesn’t just decide to return to Rochester at the end, she hears his voice calling her.
When you’ve got your structure, come back and take a look at setting and gesture. Do you have enough? Is the setting doing double duty? Is it relevant? Is it creating mood, developing character, or underscoring a theme?
Next you move to line editing. Here you ask yourself if you are using too many adjectives, or strong enough verbs. I have some editing hacks I’ll share with you in another post.
Finally you proofread. This, for me is the most boring part, because you actually have to stop reading for plot and read only for comma errors, spelling errors, etc. But it has to be done, more than once, and preferably after a break from it all. I always need other readers to help me find my errors. I can proofread three times and not see an error until I come back to it weeks later.
Well, that’s enough for today. Please feel free to add your own comments and tips below.