I have. Make sure and take lots of pictures, making note of when the photos were taken and as much as you can remember about the feelings, atmosphere, and evocative aromas, giving yourself a full sensory experience to go with the photos so that you can recreate and experience the places you have been to more fully when you finally sit down to write about them and place characters within those places, giving them the same sensory perceptions you felt when you were there. Take video shorts if you have space for it, but don’t over do those, because they take up picture space in a phone or digital camera. At some point, turn off your phone while you are there and just be present, and get a sense of the place without trying to frame it through a photo lens. Pictures never do reality justice anyway. Always learn little bits of trivia about the place. Take a sightseeing tour. Listen to the tour guide’s patter and anecdotes, historical or otherwise, but don’t lose your own perceptions of the place. Think about what first catches your notice. Take note of the sounds of the place, foreground and background. Journal about what you learned at the end of the day.
Place and settings are every bit as much of a character presence, even as your regular characters are. They are behind the forward action, but they are a backdrop and set the tone and ambiance that serves to authenticate a certain “real” sense of the world even in fiction.
Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
I was born in war.
Fighting from my first breath.