Revisions are an exciting and terrifying time. You break apart something you spent so much time molding into shape, then you pray you can patch it back together and polish it to a beautiful shine.
Basic steps when you realize your manuscript needs BIG changes:
Absorb it. Like a dry sponge on the edge of a spill, you’ve got to give yourself time to soak up the ideas of change. Too soon, and it’ll feel like the world is crumbling. Too long, and you’ll second guess yourself into oblivion.
Plan it. No one goes to war (and expects to win) without a battle strategy. Don’t freak out, though. Just ask some simple questions and write the answers. Are you going to tackle line edits last or first? Are you going to rewrite those scenes or modify the character motivation first? Which edits are you doing in tandem?
Attack it. Whether you’re on a deadline that’s self-imposed or external, having a schedule and diving in is critical.
Re-absorb it. Yes, like a perpetual sponge and/or cell, give yourself time to adjust to your own changes. A bit of distance, a bit of objectivity, and you can get a sense of whether or not the change works.
Polish it. Just like every set of revisions, you need to smooth over any changes you make. Keep all the threads lined up and untangled (or crafted into a beautiful web if that’s what you’re after). Once you smooth it over, you might find that your revisions feel as natural as the original, and work even better!