Deconstruct your favorite book.
I know, I know. This is a really difficult, time-consuming task, and it sucks precious hours out of your writing time.
But if you are not willing to do some calisthenics throughout the week, you’re going to run a lot slower and suffer more injuries along the way.
The same is true for writing.
Pull out your favorite book, the one with the story line and vibrant characters that gets you the most excited, and make a chapter outline of how the author does it. Look for details such as plot and character development, narrative pacing, use of imagery, and choices in styling and voicing; make note of when and how the author introduces new characters and lets go of old ones; figure out how the author makes every dialogue read so effortlessly; and learn the trade so you can do it yourself.