When writing a story, the setting plays a role as important as any character–exuding its own personality and affecting its inhabitants.

Put simply, the setting offers sights and objects to discuss, to throw, or to ignore. The manner in which your characters use these objects can reveal each person’s emotions, purpose, and their personality.

Before writing a scene, I like to do visual research. I want to grasp hold of the objects surrounding my characters before I hand things over to them. I’m currently building a fictitious southern town and I have a general idea of what it should look like, but having never lived south of the Mason-Dixon, I need a little nudge. I punch some select words into the search engines to see what images pop up.

An embellished oil pump courtesy of Roadside America:

A rolling crop field courtesy of the Randall County Agriculture Department:

A lonely little house courtesy of Homes.com:

An old service station courtesy of the Fayetteville, TX Chamber of Commerce:

Endless inspiration, y’all!

Soon I’ll be touring a circa 1785 historic house as visual research for another project. A local township’s historical society removed layers of paint during the restoration and revealed a mysterious drawing of a woman. Legend has it that a disgruntled worker drew the image with a spoon in 1837, after an argument with the owner of the home.

Since one of my projects features an 18th-century home undergoing renovations, I thought this would be a worthwhile trip in the name of research. And the woman on the wall may provide additional inspiration. They say everyone sees something different in her face, and perhaps my characters will, too.