Almost exactly one year ago, we left our Florida home and moved to Colorado. Our route was Orlando to Shreveport, LA, where I was presenting at a conference, and then to Monument, CO, to our daughter's house. Roads – we drove on a lot of them. Through major cities, around major cities, and out in the middle of nowhere. And, since we needed both our vehicles at our destination, Hubster and I drove separately.
When we started, we took the 'meet at a designated rest stop' option. Throughout Florida and Mississippi, they tended to be about 30-50 miles apart, which worked out well, giving us frequent opportunities to touch base and make sure everything was going well. It also drove home the fact that two people traveling the same route will have totally different experiences based on their world view.
When Hubster and I met up, we'd compare what we'd seen, and many times we didn't "see" the same things. Of course, at 70+ mph, it's easy to be looking the other way at the instant something catches the other driver's eye, but there are also things that he'll zero in on that I might not notice.
He's much more likely to notice birds (and to identify them). I see some of them, but since I'm not as well versed in ornithology, I see many of them as generic 'birds'. He also knows that the aggregation of big white things was a wind farm. We both notice trains (hard to miss), but he's much more excited about them. And the John Deere dealerships.
Once we got into central Texas, the roads went on and on. Long, straight, with rolling hills. As expected, there were lots of cows. Lots of horses. What wasn't expected: llamas, which I saw but hubby didn't. He saw coyotes, but I didn't. But the kicker was the field with a herd of camels. Those were definitely unexpected. We also saw pronghorn antelope. And despite the warning signs at rest stops, we didn't see any snakes, poisonous or otherwise.
Lots of roadkill as well. Skunks. Armadillo. Deer. Flat stuff.
We pulled into our last " motel after a relatively short driving day. It was a small town—population 7237, and judging from the smell, most of them are cows. But it's interesting. The sense of smell is tied to memories, and for hubby, it smelled like where he grew up. I don't find it quite so appealing, although I get the same reaction to birdseed, because my great uncle had an egg ranch, and I remember visiting and being allowed to help feed the chickens. The smell of birdseed always takes me back.
When you're writing, setting is important. And even the same setting won't elicit the same reactions from all your characters. If your story is set in one locale, changing the weather can change the setting. Character viewpoints will make the setting richer as they will have different perceptions of the same thing. And don't forget to use all the senses.
For more information Terry, visit her website. She can also be found at Terry's Place blogging about writing and life in general. And this month, she's giving away an ARC of her next release WHERE DANGER HIDES. Be sure to visit her contest page at her blog for a chance to win!