It’s the year 2053. Earth has made first contact with an extraterrestrial race; socialist aliens who reproduce asexually. You, now a literary giant, are tasked with adapting a sample of Earth literature for the aliens to enjoy. The book is Pride and Prejudice.
Setting is as necessary as plot and character, but only as far as it influences plot and character, the way the water-starved planet Arrakis affects everything that happens in Dune.
No one reads a book for the scenery; it’s a nice bonus if described artfully, but it’s not what makes us crack the pages.
You’ve been working on your novel for several years when you discover the latest uber popular YA book is exactly like yours. And you curse the author’s earlier timing because if you ever manage to publish yours, everyone will say you copied hers.
Goodness knows how many times I’ve advised you to cut the fluff in your novel. But there is such a thing as cutting too much. If your goal is “as short as possible!” you might end up cutting more than the fluff—important stuff like character development and symbolism.
You go to visit some friends you haven’t seen in awhile, and find yourself sandwiched between your hosts on the couch with a giant scrapbook over your lap like a seat belt, as they show off the half million pictures of snow-capped mountains they snapped on their most recent vacation.