To write well, we need to read well. I don’t necessarily mean reading a lot, although that is very important, specifically in one’s genre. By reading well, I mean reading with the goal of understanding how a story is put together.
So, the first step is to choose a story you want to study. It’s a good idea to choose one in your own genre and one that has been published by a publisher you are targeting. By doing so, you will kill many birds with one stone, to use a well-worn cliché.
The next step is to highlight what you like in the book and then ask yourself why you think it works. Also highlight what you don’t like in the book and why you think it doesn’t work.
After you have completed your critical reading, review your notes to determine what you can apply to your own story and what you do not want to apply. The more books you read in this way, the more adept you will become at understanding how a good book is put together.