I have been working on plot and story structure diligently the last few weeks and I wanted to stop and record some of the highlights in my learnings.
First, learn about reverse outlining. I tried it as a challenge and it has made clear so many elements of my story by making me articulate the purpose and dynamics of every scene I have in my book. I have some darlings I may need to kill and killing them now, rather than after several rounds of edits will be a lot easier.
Second, a key for character development and story development has been to simply identify where I have holes. I think it was Hemingway who said that in writing there is a difference between holes and omissions. Holes are lazy gaps and omissions are where the author knows what happened but is deciding what to tell the reader.
Third, the principle of positive to negative has helped me understand places where transitions are falling flat. I seem to like to have things go from bad to worse, but that's a lot more effective if there is a positive moment in between. Once I understood it in simple terms it became clear to me how to make adjustments to my story line to really make "worse" more effective after bad.