You’ve probably heard this before but I’ll say it again:
The way to a character’s heart (and isn’t that where we, as writers, are trying to get?) is through the things he or she wants/needs/desires and the things he or she fears. The acts that the character does in order to get what he or she wants and to avoid what he or she fears create character. These acts in the main characters also often drive the story.
Kind of a big deal, really.
Throw in an antagonist or two, mix well, and you’ve got a story.
Thinking about this in early drafts might help you decide what happens next or how a scene should work. SO you focus on character desire as a way of moving plot and not just as a way of developing character. Thinking about this in later drafts might help you select what should stay and what should go. You can see where you wander away from the struggle and need to cut.
Another huge advantage to this approach is the story evolves from the inside out and you aren’t looking at it from outside and trying to make it fit some outline or formula, which never works for me. The story evolves organically.