1. Lose the adverbs. Slowly, haltingly, feverishly–whatever. If it has an -ly on the end of it, ask yourself if you really need it, or if there is a better verb you could use.
2. Speaking of verbs, in dialogue, keep it simple. Use he said and she said whenever you need to make it clear who’s speaking, and cut out as many of those as possible. The trick is to allow your reader to get lost in imagining the actual conversation, not puzzling out how “she murmured breathlessly” would sound. The descriptors in dialogue should be minimal to avoid jarring your reader out of the scene.
3. Read your work out loud to check for good rhythm and to avoid awkward pacing. Better yet, have someone else read it to you.
4. Don’t go with your first idea. When you’re plotting and planning, brainstorm as many courses of action as you can–ideally, 20 or so–and choose the best of your ideas.
5. Open up to a random page of one of your favorite books and study what works well about it. Take note of what the author does to draw you in. The more you repeat the reading of a passage, the more you can notice things you didn’t catch in your first or second or fifth pass. Don’t just note what works though–take note of anything that jumps out at you as a fault, too, because even the best of writers make mistakes. Now, take what you’ve learned and apply it to your own writing.