NOTES in my setting journal:
L-shaped, elevated desk. Cheap, dark, wood paneling. Room size: approx. 15 x 25. Row of high windows. Stained (???) carpeting and padded chairs. Scuffed linoleum floor. Neon lighting (not all working).
BUSY. Many people in/out. Buzz of voices. Side conversations between attorneys/players/government employees.
Judge: cross between silver-haired character from Knot's Landing/Norm from Cheers. Glasses perched low on bulbous nose (drinker?). Black robes w/tennis shoes.
Prosecutor: Female. Short fire hydrant. Dark hair w/shots of silver. UGLY, orange, nubby sweater under black jacket. Black pencil skirt. Black flats. No makeup.
Defense Attorney: Tall, 50-ish. Tan. Mustache. Well-made dark suit. Power tie. Itchy pants? Constantly adjusting himself.
Defense Attorney: "... stuff we have to sign?"
Judge: "Well, 'stuff' is better than sayin' shit, I suppose (laughs)."
Overheard: (mantra said every time someone new came in)
Judge: "Welcome to District Court."
Lawyer: "Morning, Your Honor. Thank you for the salutation."
Best judge's quote: "You can do the right thing all day. If it doesn't look right to other people, well, you know..."
Researching settings online is certainly worth the time and sometimes the only option a writer has. However, experiencing settings, when possible, gives a writer SOOOO much more detail (and juicy quotes) to work with when fleshing out fiction. It can bring a rich description, ripe with all the senses, to the manuscript. It lets the setting really come to life on the page.
Keep a setting journal with you at all times. When next in one of the below "unusual" settings, jot down what you see, hear, smell, touch, etc. Write a short story using one or more of these settings.
A Baker's Dozen of Interesting Settings
1. Gas station
3. School gym during a sporting event
4. Doctor's office (other other medical professional)
7. Swim/water area such as a water park, pond, fishing hole, etc.
8. Cafeteria or soup kitchen
9. Coffee shop or cafe
10. Barbershop or hair salon
12. Grocery store
Good luck and happy writing!