Know Your Camera
Remember that booklet that used to come with technology? The one that actually explained how it worked?
Although user manuals are a thing of the past for a lot of brands, that doesn't mean you're forced to learn how your camera works through trial and error. Go online or contact the manufacturer to find the user manual or diagram for your camera's functions. Clearly, not all film cameras are made equally, and understanding the peculiarities of yours will prove helpful while shooting and in the darkroom.
Some cameras have more forgiving exposure than others, for instance, while others might be more stringent. According to Kodak, some cameras have more leniency in how pictures are produced when you're a bit off a stop. Black and white film can actually be a full stop or two off and still create a perfect picture [source: Kodak]. Keep in mind that you can correct for exposure when developing film, but you'll want to have a baseline for how your camera reacts. Play with your manual exposure by taking light meter readings and making incremental changes with F-stops to see how pictures improve or decline.
And while you're fiddling with exposure and camera functions, be careful to frame your shot well.