For my contemporary Hawkins’ Family series I set it in Montana. I’ve driven through the state but don’t know it well. I researched maps and cities, check mileages, researched small towns and hospitals, prisons, etc. in the area. I also check weather and information about running cattle ranches. The internet is a marvelous tool for research.
I found this article on developing your settings. These are a few of the suggestions.
- Spend a few minutes daydreaming about the world of your novel.
- Once you have a few ideas about your setting, start writing your ideas down. It can be single words that you think of.
- Make your setting vivid. Your animals need to roar and shriek and squawk; you need to smell the cloying scent of exotic flowers, feel the wind and the rain against your skin, taste tangy juice. Take all five senses into account.
- By now, you should have a pretty clear mental picture of the world that your characters live in.
- Show what you've written to someone you trust and ask them if your scene building is effective enough, or join an online writing forum.
To read the whole article go to http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Setting-for-a-Book