In my humble opinion, names and terminology are fun and relatively easy ways to help develop the tone of a location. Weather and climate hold great sway over how a society functions, so that’s another good place to start. From there, clothing and architecture and food add depth.
Other routes can entail religion and politics. These systems most often play a key role from what comes to mind – Frank Herbert’s Dune series is a fine example – but that doesn’t mean a writer can’t imagine aspects that don’t make their way into the tale. Such details can drive a character’s actions as well as build substance without necessarily needing detailed inclusion in the final text.
There are many ways author’s draw the reader into a story, and shaping a believable culture within which the characters interact is one of my favorites, as both a writer and reader. A. Catherine Noon explains beautifully the resources she and Rachel Wilder tapped from the real world. I highly suggest you scroll down and enjoy learning much more about this process.
If you haven’t already, please go out and purchase Emerald Fire. Happy reading!