Every story has its own world, and its own feel, and its own mood... to create that sense of place... good enough for close scrutiny, for the little details to show. You may not ever really see them all, but you've got to feel that they're there, somehow, to feel that it's a real place, a real world. "A Sense of Place," p. 117 in David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.As fiction submissions begin to arrive, one of the first things I look for is a sense of place, "fiction that creates its own world." As a reader, I want to know where I am in space, and this may be reflected in character, plot, theme, atmosphere, voice, language, as well as the more obvious descriptions of the setting.
I chose the above David Lynch quote because the concept of place becomes immediately evident when we think of films--we wouldn't waste ten minutes on a film that had no feel of a world.
So I look for writers who have immersed themselves so completely in their stories that the world in which their characters live seems effortlessly drawn, yet we as readers step right into the action with them.
Here's an example from Lore Segal's "Dandeliion."
On the road at the end of the hotel gardens, a group of silent walkers passed at the steady pace of those who have a day's march ahead of them, young people. I followed them with my eyes. This was the moment that the sun crested the mountain--a sudden unobstructed fire. It outlined the young people's back's with a faintly furred halo, while here, in the garden, it caught the head of a silver dandelion, fiercely, tenderly transfigured into light.