I like this free lance editor's talk (in the above link)on what needs to be included in your novel writing. She talks about how you shouldn't have your character complain so much. Yes, there will be hardships but the character needs to seem like their rising above them. Similar to Harry Potter, we know he was an orphan but he takes his life in stride and comes off as fearless, honest and a good friend.
In the beginning of the novel don't have your character waking up from a dream or daydreaming. Don't have your character be sitting around and thinking about things instead of engaging in conflict.