Location, location, location.
Yesterday, at Springfield Writers' Guild, one of our members brought in some work, and asked for a critique. Her story line was good, her writing was pretty strong, she had created a character I could care about but, I had to ask myself where was the story happening? What was the location?
It wasn't enough to know that her main character was a Mexican woman with smooth skin, or that she was recently divorced, or that a kind stranger had given her a job as a waitress in his truckstop. I wanted to know, where in the sam hill we were in her world. Later, I think it was said the story was taking place in southern California, which is a great location, completely appealing.
Your readers want to know about location. They're interested. This is where our writer fell down a bit. Had she given us a little Spanish here and there, described a cactus or a plant that grows in southern California, we would have known where we were, and quite honestly, felt a little more secure in the story. Not knowing your location is sort of like taking a trainride to nowhere in the fog. There's something swarming all around you, but you can't really grasp it or see through it, and after awhile, you feel chilled, and maybe you want a blanket.
Location. Look around the world of your characters. Is there dialect, speech patterns, learned mispronounciations? Physically, is it desert, tropical, cityscape? What nuances of the location mesh up with your characters?
There's also a "why;" why is this location important? Is it generational? Had they always been there? Is someone starting over, making a new start, as in the main character of our writer's story? Why is it important?
So, think about location as you create your stories. Clue your reader in. It'll give your story more depth and hold your reader's attention for a longer period of time.