BRING THE THUNDER! Describing weather and climate in fantasy stories

Picture credit here!

Weather in stories is always a pain point of mine, so today I wanted to discuss strategies for writing it. Timelines are also not my strongpoint, which could be relevant to weather due to seasons. Not to mention, if you’re working in any sort of fantasy or horror, the weather can really set the mood and cause its own set of problems for your protagonists! That said, I want to inspire authors who also struggle a bit or just want more ideas on how to play with the concepts, so hopefully this ends up being helpful!

See how the blood moon leads to creepy effect? This piece is by gynesis!

The first thing I wanted to bring up was the moon. Waxing, waning, full, new, this could be a good way to tell time of month in a high fantasy without great date reading. Modern fantasy can utilize it too, because the full moon could have some magical effect on your creatures, especially if werewolves are involved. You need to consider if this effect also applies when the sky is cloudy. Will a full moon have the same potency when completely covered by clouds?

Then, we need to consider clothing with weather, and how your characters are affected by it. Particularly those who wear unusual clothing in inappropriate weather. Why would someone be dressed down so much in frigid weather? This could lead to suspicion or world building if people already know your creature produces enough heat, or doesn’t need to, to survive in the cold. Same story vice versa. Overdressing for the heat would be very unusual, and it’d be curious as to why they’re doing that. 

Now lets talk about the sun. How many suns does your world have? Or is it our world, in the same conditions we’re used to? I think using our world as a comparison point is a good rule of thumb. You can think about weather in the north or south (which might require research on your end), then consider how you can make it very unusual if you’re trying to go with an otherworldly feel. Eternal winter? Eternal summer? Several years of either? Everyday it swaps to another extreme? There’s tons of things that can be done with it.

Image credit here!

Rain, snow, hail… that’s all forms of water, and I’m sure we can toss in wind or pollen there for what we typically think with weather. We have small extremes, like thunderstorms, and small blizzards, or large extremes, like tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes…the list goes on. What can you do to modify this and make it unusual? Change the rain and snow, for one thing. Imagine it rained frogs? What if snow was a different color, like blood red? You could do a lot with horror if you somehow made it blizzard blood. What if volcanoes spewed a freezing substance rather than lava? How would that affect things? How would your creatures adapt?

Speaking of adapting to climate and weather, your character reactions to it are important as well. Even if you don’t go extreme or mess with just milder conditions on our planet, having them shiver to a cold breeze is important, feel their face warmed by the sun, feel off put that it’s not cold but they’re somehow getting some other type of chill from being watched… weather can contrast what’s going on to make things very unusual.

Hopefully this gave some ideas on what questions to have with regard to weather. This is often something overlooked, which I’m guilty of, when writing a story! Let me know if this inspired any ideas, and how the weather works in the world you’ve built!

Looking for a vampire horror that practically rains blood? Check out my novel The Dancing Crow!

Published by Des M. Astor

Heya, I'm an author. Typically I write Urban Fantasy, and I only usually read in that genre as well. My author's website is both a writing blog and a showcase for my work. Check it out if you'd like.

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