I am definitely not advocating that this should be the first way you study literature if you are trying to improve your writing. But even a novel of moderate length is probably 50,000 words, and that’s 50,000 data points. You’re just not going to be able to soak that all in at once, and there are going to be some questions that you just can’t answer reading through on your own. It’s good to see the bigger picture. If you sit down and study one paragraph, you’re in your creative writing class talking to your professor, if there is a set way to look at that, you are just going to see that throughout everything. But with the data, that kind of frees you of it, and you can answer some questions without these biases and really get some new information.
The first thing you need to ask yourself when writing a story is, “What do my characters want?” Then give your protagonist a specific desire or goal, design obstacles to keep him/her from achieving it, and decide how this goal will ultimately be achieved or changed by the end of the story. Supporting characters need desires, too, but you’re protagonist’s desire will be the most influential. Desires are the main force driving plot and character development. Once your characters each have one, everything else will start falling into place.