I'm sure you've all seen maps with a dot or arrow or other marker and the words, "You Are Here." That's because it's important to know where you are. That pertains not only to everyday life, but also to the writing life.
If anyone read my Where Am I blog yesterday at http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/
the answer is -
Heading North on Interstate 39/US51 near Wausau, Wisconsin, with a west view of Rib Mountain. The snow's still on it because the sun doesn't hit that side of the mountain.
When you write a novel, one important aspect to consider is setting. You need to ground the reader in where the story happens. It's not enough to mention where everything takes place. You need to go deeper, and include sights, smells, sounds and taste.
You can go for the obvious by mentioning famous landmarks, such as Rib Mountain, near Wausau, and/or you can describe other scenery, such as office buildings, lakes, or farm lands. Don't forget sun or rain. You'll find lots more sun in places like Arizona all year round, than in spots like Illinois. Ireland and England are more famous for rain.
Smells are also easy. No matter where you are, you'll smell something. Hospitals have that antiseptic odor, fresh air has its own clean smell, cars, buses and trucks let off exhaust fumes. Bakeries have an aroma to die for. You get the idea.
Some ways to describe sounds are songs of birds specific to the area, such as the cry of the loon in the North Woods of Wisconsin. Cardinals, robins, sparrows, you can find in a lot of places, but you may not hear their songs in certain parts of the U.S. unless it's Spring or Summer. Jets zooming across the sky are a daily occurrence in metropolitan areas, but not as much around farms. The sound of a helicopter almost always means trouble, since they tend to hover around news scenes. School bells, boat motors, and other specific sounds can identify where you are.
Taste is also a great way to describe where you are. Certain foods are more popular in certain countries, areas and/or populations. On Taylor Street in Chicago, known as Little Italy, you'll probably find more people eating spaghetti than corned beef. More examples are popcorn at movies and hot dogs at baseball games.
Can you name other ways to identify location? Have you included such tips in your own novels, or perhaps you've noticed a great example in someone else's book. Please share.