Know Thy CharacterI highly recommend getting to know each of your charters in your novel. Don't just write about some made up people, learn to feel for them a little, to understand them well enough to convey a realness that readers love. Does your lead person have a good heart or a dark core? Make sure the characters you flesh out will work seamlessly in your story's genre and tone.
Try writing half a page of information for each of your key characters and spend a little time just thinking about them. This will really help you connect with them and that allows you to writer a better novel quicker and with more ease.
What is your lead's main struggle?
Is he/ she a bored person or over excited about getting the story going?
By understanding your novel or short story's characters you can develop a really wonderful story that captures people's imaginations. As you write down an outline for your story include an outline for each person in the tale and consider it as important as the story itself.
How do they see themselves?
Are they honest or dishonest people?
As you tie in each occurrence in your story to the different characters consider which of them might make for the best plot twist or mystery. Play with them until you feel like they are your neighbors.