I remember one day I was sitting in the lunch room at work, and a few other co-workers were eating and talking. I don't know how the conversation got there, but Paul told us that after he graduated from college, he and his best friend flipped a coin to decide where they'd move to live and look for work. Heads Seattle, WA or Tails Somewhere, WI. It was heads, so they moved to Seattle, got an apartment together, and both found work. He eventually met the woman who would become his wife, they moved to Portland where she had family, and so... there it was. His life, all a result of that coin toss.
I told myself I had to use that in a book someday. So, when I was writing THE DAY BEFORE, I thought - I want to put a coin toss in here. I didn't know why. I didn't know how it would work. I just knew it was one detail I wanted to use.
That is how it works for me. I don't necessarily know how things will come together when I plant seeds into my story like that. I just have something in mind I want to use (usually a few somethings - what are those called anyway?), and then I write and see how they grow. See how things play out.
In the end, the coin toss didn't necessarily mean a BIG decision was made, like it was for Paul. It actually became much more for my main character. In the process of tossing a coin throughout the day, she eventually has a realization that's really key for her. An "ah-ha" moment, if you will.
Sometimes I think I should be more intentional about the details I put into my books. Except, I sort of love the excitement and mystery and eventually, the joy of discovery of how the details come to work together to add meaning to the story. It makes it SO fun!
As I've said before, when it all comes together and works, it's like... magic.
I'm curious. Are you intentional about what little elements or details or whatever they're called that you put into your story? Or are you more like me - throw things in and then see how they play out?