Writing a novel is an incredibly complex task with so many moving parts it’s easy to lose track of them. That’s one reason editing is so important. You can’t—simply can’t, it’s physically and intellectually impossible—get it perfect in a single draft.
Because the task is so complicated, multiple opinions about developing your craft are beneficial. Not every method or technique works for every writer.
I recommend the Writing Excuses podcast for novelists at every level because the show’s four hosts each present a unique view on the craft. The best known of the hosts is Brandon Sanderson, a best-selling fantasy novelist. The other writers on the show—Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler—each bring a distinct perspective and set of experiences.
The first words the reader reads are not going to be the first words that you write. You can find the story’s voice before you pour that voice into the those first pages.—Writing Excuses
Season 10 of the show is designed as a master class in novel writing and has so far covered brainstorming ideas, developing characters, and writing openings.
I especially recommend that you go back to Season 9 and listen to the episode about “Three Pronged Character Development.” This method of examining a character describes Competence, Proactivity, and Sympathy as being like sliders on a soundboard, postulating that scaling the “volume” up or down will affect how readers respond. This metaphor can help you troubleshoot characters who are too perfect or too bland.
Though the hosts are mainly writing in the speculative genres, their advice applies for whatever genre your novel is in, and much of it will probably also be useful for writers of memoir and other narrative nonfiction.