Every story has three main aspects - characters, setting, and plot. For me, characters tend to be THE most important key to a good story. If I can't connect to a character, react for the better or worse, I tend to not connect to the story. However, one of the panelists disagreed by making this argument (loosely quoted) . . .
"Characters grow out of the place.The setting of a novel provides the reader accessibility. It allows us to fall into a story with pre-conceived notions. If a story is set in southern California, for example, we think of surfers and movie stars.
Action (plot) grows out of the characters.
Therefore, place is fundamental."
I cannot deny the importance of setting. A good example of this for me is with the book Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West. I felt a special connection to this story because it was set in a small town in Montana - one I am both familiar with and can relate to from my younger years in a similar setting.
I don't deny the importance of setting. Yet, this conversation really has me thinking about the significance of where a story takes place. How important is setting? How does setting play into fantastical worlds? Can setting make or break a reader connection? I want to know your thoughts.
How important is setting to you? Do you think it is as fundamental as the panelist noted?