Right now I'm in the middle of writing a Young Adult novel. I've been struggling with this so I decided I could use some extra help and I decided to attend a Young Adult/middle grade novel writing workshop that was held in my town. Brodi Ashton, the author of Everneath, and Lindsey Leavitt, author of the Princess for Hire series and Sean Griswold's Head were the authors that came to teach us about writing a novel. The workshop was good and I learned a lot of good things and was able to network with some other aspiring authors.
A few of the things I learned:
~The observations a character makes should say as much about the character that makes them as about the person they are observing. Different people notice different things about others. One person might look at a child and say that that child is funny and energetic and has bright, blue eyes. Another person might look at that same child and call them smart-mouthed and crazy and notice their dirty shirt. The observations made say as much or more about the person making them as they do the child himself. Even though nothing was said about the people observing the child, you can probably make some assumptions about them just by the things they noticed and the way they expressed those things.
~One good idea, I thought, was to go through your manuscript and highlight the dialogue in different colors for each character. That way you can make sure that what they say and how they say it is consistent with who they are.
~This is a website that has world building questions on it, for those setting their novel in a fantasy world. (And I am.) They're good things to think about when building a world. And, as was pointed out, you can also use them even if your novel isn't set in a fantasy world. Even if the novel is set in the real world, you still need to know the answers to those same questions.
~Probably one of the most helpful things was just the reminder that most people's rough drafts aren't very good. I was getting frustrated that mine seemed to have so many problems, so it was good to hear published novelists say that their earliest drafts have lots of holes and problems in them too. There is hope for mine--it's just going to take a lot of work. But that I can handle. I can work hard. Especially when it's something I enjoy doing so much.