I'd like to talk about two topics connected with each other: setting and atmosphere. These two are important to a novel and can affect such things as the characters and the tone of the story.
Setting is where the story takes place. There are two basic kinds; general and specific. A general setting, for example, would be New York, the country of Japan, Dublin, the space station Deep Space Nine. As you can see, these are large and vague areas. Specific settings are just that, specific: a brownstone building, Tokyo Sky Tree, Quark's Bar.
When you are devising your story, setting will play an important part. It is something you will think about, and may use as a basis for your story. An American living in New York will act different, and thus have a different story, than an American in Tokyo. The first may be a businessman, one who travels the subways every day, sure of where he is going and what is around him. The second may be a businessman as well; but if he doesn't live in Tokyo he may feel lost, unsure, or angry. Stories can be crafted simply from places and how the characters act and react to it: a delivery man stuck on a deserted island, an innocent man thrown in prison, or an expedition to the Arctic. Setting will play a very important role.
Not only general settings, but specific places are important as well. A girl will act and feel different in the classroom than in her bedroom. Settings can evoke strong feelings in characters. If a character was shot during a convenience store robbery but lived, he or she may feel anger or fear at every convenience store they visit. Ever seen a Jackie Chan movie? Those are great to showcase how one can use a specific setting, like a supermarket, to craft a fight scene.
Atmosphere is related to setting. It's the tone, the feel, of the place. Depending on the description and word choice the author uses, the atmosphere of a setting will be different. It happens all the time in real life: a building may seem warm and friendly in the daytime, but become sinister and foreboding in the middle of the night. An author has to think of their words and descriptions carefully in order to evoke the proper atmosphere. Read crime novels, especially hard boiled detective books like The Maltese Falcon, or a Sherlock Holmes story. The atmosphere is very much a part of the story.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. As always, thanks for reading.