But a realistic or contemporary novel can have a specific sense of place. "World-building" is associated with fantasy, but every novel builds its own world, whether it's one that's familiar or foreign, a meticulous recreation or the author's invention.
When I wrote Deadwood, I wanted to create a specificity of place -- the outer Philadelphia neighborhoods of Mount Airy and Andorra, the inner suburbs of the Mainline and Delaware County, the leafy urban parks where I've spent. I decided to do this because it's too common to think of some places as non-places -- places without regional character, places where nothing happens. But there are stories everywhere if you find them or write them.
Setting is specificity of place, accent, culture, geography, history, and architecture. In Deadwood, aspects of setting were almost a character -- Deadwood Park, the geographical and emotional center of the story. I had a very clear map in my head about where everything was. I didn't draw it out, but next time, maybe I will.
Top 5 places in Deadwood that are based on places in real life.
Does a sense of place matter in the stories you write? Do you try to be universal or specfic when it comes to regionality? Do you prefer to write the exotic or the everyday?
And for another perspective, read this excellent guest post by PK Herzo:
Settings that Pop
About Kell Andrews: Kell Andrews writes picture books and middle grade novels. Deadwood, her middle-grade contemporary fantasy about a cursed tree, is out now from Spencer Hill Middle Grade.