If you know NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), you might know the book NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM, by NaNo creator, Chris Baty.
It is a fun, witty read, yet contains one of the single, most invaluable approaches to writing I've ever utilized. He calls it The Magna Carta.
This exercise asks: "What, to you, makes a good novel?" (pg. 86)
The list defines, in bare bones, everything you want in your book. I literally wrote down everything, like, a hundred bullet points. Magically, your book will contain this list. It's amazing, which is why it's in my Writer's Kit!
Baty also expounds on snacks (essential!)
Get this book.