A story without a strong sense of place wanders. The reader needs to know— where does this take place? Should I bring my raincoat, perhaps a heavy jacket? No, a light sweater or a bathing suit. Will I travel by train, plane, on foot, or on a spaceship?
Place is another character.
“Place in fiction is the named, identified, concrete, exact and exacting, and therefore credible, gathering spot of all that has been felt, is about to be experienced, in the novel’s progress.”— Eudora Welty
“The novel that fails is a novel in which there is no sense of place, and in which feeling is, by that much, diminished. Its action occurs in an abstracted setting that could be anywhere or nowhere. This reduces its dimensions drastically and cuts down on those tensions that keep fiction from being facile and slick.” —Flannery O’Connor
“I think locale and texture are much more important to the reader’s sense of actually being in the story than any physical description of the players.” —Stephen King
Eudora Welty's famous lecture:Place in Fiction
A Worn Path by Eudora Welty
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
To Build a Fire by Jack London