Agent Donald Maass writes a thoughtful and instructive article (he’s always like that) about How to make your setting a character on the Writer’s Digest website. In other places I’ve seen Donald talk about the technique I advocate that I call experiential description—coloring the description of a place, person, or action with how a character sees things—but in this article he ranges wider than that. Very instructive.
He first discusses how to link details and emotions. He says that it is the combination of setting details and the emotions attached that can make place a living thing.
Another way he talks about bringing setting alive is to measure change over time. The way a place is in winter is a different “character” than it is in the spring, and affects characters in different ways.
Another section is about seeing through characters’ eyes, but in a different manner than experiential description—infusing a character with a strong opinion about his place or time.
Check it out. Maass is great at analyzing the narrative art and discussing it.
For what it's worth,
© 2013 Ray Rhamey