I had the most amazing weekend: my first SCBWI regional retreat. If you ever get the opportunity to attend Darcy Pattison's Novel Revision Retreat, do it!
In Pattison's book Novel Metamorphosis, she breaks down revision into smaller, manageable chunks like characters, plot, and setting. At the retreat, she gave us mini-lessons in each of these areas, providing us with several examples from published novels and picture books.
Pattison is a strong supporter of whole manuscript critiques. Before the retreat, each participant exchanged completed manuscripts with three others. We didn't do line-by-line edits; instead, we looked at the "big picture" for inconsistencies, strong and weak chapters, and good examples of characterization, setting, and language. I stayed with this group throughout the retreat as we discussed each of Pattison's mini-lessons and how they pertained to our own manuscripts. It was so helpful to receive input from three other people who knew my manuscript.
Another suggestion that Pattison gives is to use a shrunken manuscript. She describes this more in her book, but it's a way to visually represent your entire manuscript in about 30 pages to look for places where your conflict, dialogue, and scenes may be weak. I'm a visual learner, so seeing my manuscript this way was amazing!
I admit that my brain hurt when I left Idaho and headed back home. But it was a good hurt. I have so many ideas of how to revise my manuscript. Now I have a summer project: to make my novel better so I can start querying by the fall. Of course, there's that other WIP that I'd like to finish. It's going to be a busy (but productive) summer!