I have been guilty of it too. I know I have previously told you that I write cold and edit/rewrite hot, where I go back and paint the picture, fill in the details or add the embroidery, however you want to describe it. I also know I am a very visual writer. The story plays out like a film in my head and this is the challenge to get that film down on the page so that the reader can see it to.
Setting can be vital. It can support or impinge on your character. It can help to manipulate the mood, reveal a character or move the action along. It can even set the period that your story is set in. Setting can include not just place, but architecture, artefacts, technology, books, food, clothes etc, etc, the list is endless. When writing it is always a good idea to be specific. If you are talking about seeing flowers, say which flowers. If you are talking about clothes, be detailed. All of these add a further dimension to your work, they can bring it life and lift it off the page. And this is not just applicable to the realist novel, even in your fantasy worlds there has to be a setting, a sense of place.
The picture above is of a square in Caen. I went to Caen the year before last as that is where my novel, Ham & Jam, is set. I needed to experience it in order to be able to bring some verisimilitude to my writing. I wanted to be able to see it, smell it, touch it, taste it and hear it. I write for young adults and they may not notice that I have got minor details right about Caen, but I will know. Researching your setting is as important as researching your characters I believe. I love doing both.
We are always told that as writers we should carry notebooks round to record snippets of conversations we hear, ideas that come to mind or characters we see. In mine I also draw things I see, by the way I can't draw to safe my life, but I can create enough of a picture to remind me what I was looking at. For example, there is a very bad drawing of a tree in my current book. It was a tree I saw on a train journey. I was travelling from Edinburgh to Inverness to go on an Arvon course. A spectacular journey which I highly recommend. On the way amidst a mass of pine trees was a clearing and in the centre, totally on its own, was a twisted and gnarled dead tree. How did it get there? How did it die? One day it will appear in one of my stories because that is what I like to do, make collections of characters and settings that I know eventually will appear in my work.
How do you research your settings? Does your story play like a film in your head as you write? Enjoy creating your sense of place in the meantime.
Here is Van Morrison singing 'Keep It Simple' because that is what we all need to do.