I recently discovered this blog: How To Plan, Write, and Develop Your Book by Mary Carroll Moore.
It's packed full of information and strategies for developing a story. It's like an entire writing course online. I recently watched her video about storyboarding and came away with some new ways of looking at the writing process.
I liked the way she described the purpose of the three-act structure as a way to give your book a shape that other people can understand.
And I also like her suggestion about brain-storming before beginning a new writing project. I usually start with a character or a problem that catches my interest and then I start sticking stuff to it and asking "what if" questions to expand on it.
But I'm intrigued by the idea of taking a bunch of elements that I'd love to see in a novel (or that I'd love to write about so I can learn more about them) and then trying to develop a structure around them. I might try this sometime as an experiment. I'm also going to look for the book A Writer's Time by Kenneth Atchity, which she mentioned in her video.
Have you ever sat down and thought about the specific things you'd like to put into your book before you begin? Or do elements of the novel appear as you're writing?