One of the more frustrating things for a writer is building the fictional world within which their characters will take life and form. If it’s not done properly, it’ll show in the shallowness of the background against which the plot plays out. What’s more, it’ll frustrate readers, who are trying to form their own visualization of what’s happening, where, and to whom, only to find that the details they need as “foundation stones” for their imagination simply aren’t there.
I’ve found a very useful tool is to look online for articles, photo essays, etc. that depict something similar to what I’m trying to portray in my work in progress. As an example, the New York Times has published many photo-heavy articles under the umbrella title of “The World through a Lens“. Some examples include:
There are many more at the link.
There are plenty of other sites that offer similar food for thought: Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Space, the Discovery Channel, etc. I find that, whether reading or writing, it repays clicking over to one of them for a while every now and again, and exposing myself (you should pardon the expression) to completely different cultures and milieux to those with which I’m familiar. It stretches my imagination, and keeps me fresh. I can approach other authors’ work with greater breadth of vision and insight, and I can write my own books with the same benefits.
What say you, readers?