Get yer mind out of the gutter! What do you think I'm talking about? Geography, you wanton pack of lust-bunnies! Geeze, do I have to spell everything out?
Geography is essential in all story telling, whether Sci-Fi, Romance, YA, Memoir. It doesn't matter (unless your writing some do-it-yourself guidebook) what the genre - the character has to live somewhere. The events have to happen somewhere. The journey takes you somewhere.
You may not talk much about the location, or you may give a full and complete description of time, place, culture. You may hint at generalities or be quite specific; down to the type of house, the foliage and the decor. But it's still there, underpinning the events, dialogue and dilemma's that your character(s) are dealing with.
In my first book, geography is key. The MC spends six years traveling the country, looking for something she can't identify, only to find it in the same kind of small town she left at the beginning. My second book, although taking place in a specific location, could really occur anywhere. Some stories need a concise "point" on the map, some don't.
Think about it: would Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" worked anywhere other than Weed, California? How about "To Kill a Mockingbird"? No, they needed the precise place and time of their creation to carry the impact of the language, the events and the perspective with which we observe them.
But what about Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants?" Do we really need to know that it occurs along the Ebro River of Spain? No, not so much. In fact, I alway's pictured it somewhere in the arid regions of Northern Africa or the Middle East. Or even in the desert southwest, where I'm from. Because the setting is the backdrop. The geography is important because of the mood it invokes, as given in the title - not the actual map-coordinate.
Now, what if you took the hills away? And the train station? And the bar? Would it be the same story? Not likely. The bar creates the scene, the hills create the since of longing and the train station slows the pace, as both the reader and the characters wait, wait, wait for a train that represents a monumental shift in their relationship and how we perceive them.
Again - geography. Make your G-spot matter!
Many thanks to the gifted and talented Susan Scott for the late night inspiration (dare!) to go with the topic! You can visit her at: http://www.gardenofedenblog.