Beyond a certain point writing is so individual – the strengths and weaknesses of an author so divergent – that I don’t think I am qualified (or willing) to set out general “rules” for how to write. (Other than: tell a good story, with interesting characters, in excellent prose. Easy 😉 ) Especially since there is so much latitiude in what a good novel can be: the styles of, say, Hemingway, Rushdie, and Burroughs diverge greatly, but they are united by the indefinable essence of being good.
If it works, it works. Good writing justifies itself. You have to figure out what that is for yourself, and the main way is by reading good books.
Reading is the often invisible counterpoint to writing. Good writers must also be good readers, requiring a very fine sense of discrimination, an intuitive sense of how words work, and how people read and experience books.
You need to be able to read back what you have done and understand its effect on someone who hasn’t written it. What does what is on the page do to the reader? It can be difficult to get this distance once you have carved each word from the silence of the page, and know what has been left on the floor among the mute shavings of possibility. (This is why at a certain point you will need to get feedback from people whose opinion you trust.)
This all relates to the point in part three of this series – only when you have a complete draft can you read it and understand what it is trying to do, what it is doing, and where it is succeeding and failing. While built from words, sentences and paragraphs, the natural unit of the novel is the whole. A novel is more than the sum of its parts, and therein lies the art. And the magic is elicited by skilled reading.