The characters provide the motive for the story, but without a cohesive setting it doesn’t come to life for the reader in my opinion. So what is it about setting? For me, I have to be able to look through the character’s eyes and see what they are seeing. This has to be real and that involves research. Yep, that is right, down to the flower that will be in bloom in that season.
How to accomplish this? Each season has a certain feel about it. Think fall, when the smell of overripe fruit permeates the air and the drone of bees made sluggish by the chill of night fills the morning air. This is the season where everything is closing down for the winter sleep. Why is this important? It gives a marker in time that allows the reader to progress. Without this marker, the time is static.