I’ve read books where settings were so carefully constructed they became characters in the story. The settings were not merely backdrops, but integral to the novel. Three authors come to mind: Jan Karon, J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis. Mitford, Middle-earth, and Narnia. For these authors, setting is about the right place for the right time.
I want that for my writing. I’m a visual learner and discovered that if I personify the key elements of a novel, I can create more effective stories. When I think about a great setting, I picture a fine dining experience. Specifically, I like to view my novel’s setting as the waiter who makes that dining experience memorable.