One way to do that is to study the craft of writing a novel.
Blueprint Your Bestseller, by Stuart Horwitz, now has an honored place in my top five books on this subject.
Horwitz teaches the Book Architecture Method, which complements all I have learned about writing over the years and clears a few things up.
The BAM focuses on finding the right scenes in the right order. I am breaking my current work-in-progress into scenes, polishing the good, discarding the worthless, and fixing those with potential. Great stuff! I plan to revise previous works using this process. Needless to say, the future of writing is bright and exciting.
But wait, that's not all. Horwitz ties the concept of scenes together with series. Briefly, series are the aspects of scenes that tie everything together and give a story cohesion and richness. The concept of series has clarified many stories in my unpublished backlist.
Horwitz also drives home the point that theme maters. He's fond of saying your book can only be about one thing. Theme has always been hard to pin down, since I spent the first thirty years of my vocation writing by the seat of my pants, with only a few guilty attempts to outline after the fact.
The BAM made theme much easier, and more friendly, to work with.
The final game changer for me was Horwitz's discussion of limitation. Without going into detail, I say now that this concept has made my work-in-progress tighter, clearer, and more powerful.
Reading this review, you might wonder if I have a financial interest in Horwitz's book. I don't. It is not the only method I find useful, but it is in my top five.
The BAM is work, don't get me wrong. But I think it's one path to great writing.