Today I wanted to talk with you all about setting, specifically setting a story in a place you've never been, or one you're writing about from memory. I've always had a difficult time convincing myself to set a story in Oregon. Don't get me wrong, I love Oregon. But I find myself drawn to writing about, dreaming about and researching places I've never been but want to visit. The first book I worked on was set in Edinburgh, Scotland. I've never been to Scotland, but it was sure fun to research. It was also during NaNoWriMo so I went into the Scotland forum and asked them bunches or questions (it was really helpful, I suggest that to anyone writing in November - ask questions in the geographical forums).
I remember reading once that when Laurell K. Hamilton wrote a book set in Arizona (or New Mexico?) she stayed there for a while to better learn the setting. Granted, she's wealthy and famous and it makes sense that she would do that for a book expected to sell that many copies. But what about most authors who aren't able to do that?
The book I'm working on now is set in Oregon. I sort of made up a town that's a composite of a couple I'm familiar with. But I may want to set my next book (partially anyway) in Italy, a town like the one I'll be staying in this summer. I'm trying to figure out what I should do to capture that setting. Lots of pictures? Lots of notes? Describe places I see? The picture above is a picture of the town I'll be living in, Gravina in Puglia. There are lots of caves I guess (I will have to tell you RS writers all about it - can't you imagine all sorts of bad dealings going on in caves?).
Have you ever set a book in a town you've never visited? Or have you vacationed somewhere with the intent of absorbing it as a setting to write about? What are some ways you've captured the setting to recall later when you're actually writing?