This week's topic is setting.
My first two novels were historicals. The accuracy of setting impacts historical plot, I think, so I researched settings right after I fleshed out my main characters.
One is a western set in 1890's South Dakota. I am familiar with the northern plains landscape and climate, and have first hand experience with cows and live-off-the-land lifestyle. I have books about Native American life, and a farmer-husband who adores that area's prairies and wild spaces. I ordered books on the Missouri River system from my regional library system, and found on the Internet letters between mail order brides and their future spouses.
The second is set in 1490's Brittany. I studied travel guides, European archaeology texts, and the Rance River estuary. I read up on castles in general, and the fortified city of St. Malo in particular. I joined a Preservation of the Brehonic Language Society, and familiarized myself with 15th Century political tensions between Brittany and France, and France and England. I researched Celtic coinage, and compared History Channel shows on medieval weaponry with the information I gleaned on writing loops.
My current WIP is a contemporary suspenceful romance. I am setting it in Duluth/Superior for familiarity. I am not finding that the setting is as critical -- or as helpful. What the characters do for a living and the impact of childhood family issues are driving my plot as much as their personalities and their mutual attraction.