Agent Donald Maass is always worth reading. These two essays on Writer Unboxed are thought-provoking:

The Elements of Awe

“What is the strongest emotion you want your reader to feel? Search and delete that word everywhere it occurs in your manuscript. Now, how will you provoke that emotion through action alone? Got it? Good. Next write down three ways to heighten that action.” 

And The Elements of Awe, Part II:

“High story impact does not come from length alone. It occurs when every character in a novel embarks on a profound journey and every plot layer and sub-plot becomes a novel unto itself.”