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Great list and I liked Poe’s suggestion too. I am from a well-known yet small town and when people say Santa Fe is a half hour from Taos and the hospital is in the middle of town it drives me mad (in both senses of the word).

Strictly as a supplementary tool, I like to use Google Map’s street view. My novel is set in Los Angeles. I’ve been there a number of times to double check details and soak up atmosphere. I’ve created a fictional house in a particular area that I’ve made sure I’ve stayed in on a lot of visits. My , I love that I can also “visit” a street in a particular neighborhood if the setting is playing a walk-on role (like a vintage clothing store in Echo Park, for example). Sometimes the tool gives me places to check out for my next visit.

Some of what you are saying definitely bolsters the “show, not tell” rule of writing, like your example in #4. I once went to a first page review type of workshop, where an author and agent read anonymous first pages. In other workshops, I kept hearing how you never, ever start with setting. After the first page reviews, I finally understood the breadth of the problem and why it keeps being mentioned in writing workshops — a good 80% of the first pages lavished loving description on setting, and it did get tiresome quickly. So I’m a big fan of your #6 point too.

My only other note is that I think you should change “pink” to “orange” in #7!

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