This round's topic was suggested by Cole, who asked
which translated, means How do you get inside your character's world?
(And no, she didn't post the number, but when I pasted it in accidentally, I thought it would be funny to leave it there.)
My current project, Across Two Universes, literally takes place on two different worlds: one is a future Earth, and the other is a 1980 Earth. Travel between them occurs through a wormhole, so much of the story is also set on a spaceship. I have a lot to keep in mind when I create my settings, so how do I do it? It's a mixture of research and extrapolation.
Researching the 1980 setting would seem to be easier, but sometimes I have trouble tracking down the specific information I need. My characters land in the western part of the U.S.; how do they get to Chicago? In earlier drafts they flew, but this time, they have less money, so they take a train. I had to research routes and schedules, estimate prices, and look up pictures of the cars in service at that time. The Internet was a big help here, not just for looking things up directly, but by finding people willing to send me additional information. I even researched some points the old-fashioned way, via books at the library. An important scene is set outside the Museum of Science and Industry at the U-505 exhibit. I remember seeing the submarine when it was still outside the museum, but I couldn't remember how it was set up and if it was roped off. I found a book about the history of the submarine, but the pictures didn't show me how the exhibit looked. In the end, I went with what worked for my story. I tried to be as accurate as possible, but if it's not quite right, I can always claim that that's because it's an alternate universe.
With the futuristic settings, I start with what's known or what's projected and go from there. The future Earth setting contains references to global warming, problems with agriculture, and overpopulation. For the spaceship, I chose to make it fusion-powered (since that seemed the most likely power source to me) and made it self-sufficient with fish ponds and greenhouses.
To bring these settings to life, I think about what my main character would notice as he moves from one location to the other. He smells, feels, and tastes differences between the two universes. He misses having access to computers in 1980 but is amazed by how lax security is. It's all in the details, so I try to include telling details when I can.
That's all I have for now. Go check out what Mandy said yesterday and what Michelle will say tomorrow!