One thing I enjoy about visiting new places is analyzing the mood of a setting. Of course, the mood I bring to a location will affect how I perceive it, but I also try to examine the “vibe” a place gives off, independent of how I’m feeling at the time.
For example, I visited a library in a small city. Now I’m predisposed to love libraries because I’ve used them since I was a child and was a children’s librarian for ten years. But I wasn’t in the building long before I felt uncomfortable and even depressed. This wasn’t a friendly library. So I tried to figure out why I felt that way. Signs were posted warning patrons about rules. The library was extra quiet. Although the staff was polite, they weren’t friendly, as if they had other things to do than wait on patrons. I have the impression that removing books from the shelves would have been frowned upon.
Once I’ve dissected the mood of a place, I can file it away for possible use in a story.
Do you analyze the mood of a setting? How do you write about it?