The best way to find inspiration is to visit a scene similar to the one you are writing about. It isn't always practical and other methods can be more useful, especially for writers who don't or can't get out for some reason. You can recreate the experience at home.
I have visited so many places in England that inspired stories. When I didn't have a notebook with me there were important sights, sounds and smells that I had forgotten after returning home.
I have discussed the importance of using the five senses in previous articles, and these will improve your short stories and novels. We don't always remember the sensations that we experienced when we read our notes later. If you are like me then you are an impatient writer who taps at the keyboard and revises later, then you might find a few methods that I use useful to you.
1) Meditation is good to create a new scene or to revive an old one. Sit with your eyes closed and take yourself back to that place you visited years ago. If it helps play some soothing music - woodland sounds will often be of birds singing and a flowing stream. If you are creating a fantasy scene that happens to be under water you can go for a dolphin recording. New World Music is the best at creating natural sound tapes and CD's. All meditation music is designed to help you relax and get back to nature.
2) Pamphlets and holiday brochures don't just contain pictures of destinations. They are full of descriptions that can help you to feel as if you are there. Read the descriptions, look at the pictures, and close your eyes. Write what you have seen or experienced.
3) What about the town that you live in. Have you written a story that tells others about where you live? We don't all live in a lovely country village or near the beach. All you need do for this is describe your next shopping trip. On your way to the shops take note of people's reactions. Look up at the skyline and rooftops. Let your imagination run wild.
4) Be a good listener. How do other people describe the things they are excited about, doesn't an excited friend hold your attention? Why? Try to capture their mood by writing a few paragraphs of your story as soon as they leave.
5) When you revise your writing, if you are not excited by it then no body else will be. Rearrange the words and replace some with more vivid words. Make your work sparkle without over-doing it. Sparkling snow is better than cold snow. Shimmering sun is better than hot sun. Everyone knows the temperature but they might appreciate both sun and snow a bit more after the have made it sound glamorous.
6) Burning incense or Aromatherapy oils will relax you and help you to describe smells. There are so many oils that you can use - rose, scents of the forest, herbal scents and most flowers that you can think of. If you are writing about a catering establishment with a cleaner then how about opening a bottle of cleaning fluid and scrubbing the kitchen first. The smell will linger as a reminder of what it smells like while you write.
7) If you are writing about a fire you can blow out a candle to create the smell of burning. If you are a horror writer and someone is being burned put a piece of hair, a fingernail or the small piece of skin from a blister in the flame to find out what burning flesh smells like. I did this recently while writing about a witch who was burned at the stake. It worked and gave me a good description of what it might be like without experiencing the real thing!
All of these things can help you to create vivid scenes in the same way that they
work for me. Your creativity is only limited by your own imagination.