It was a dark and stormy night. The sun was shining in the sky and the birds were singing. The mountains loomed in the distance.
If you start reading a book with any of this information, you probably have some idea what kind of story it’s going to be. Your geography and weather have a huge impact on your story.
Or at least, it should. Here’s a handy list of ways to work weather and geography to your advantage.
Set The Mood
A story told about a dark night,in which the rain is hitting the windows like so many stones, so hard that your antagonist believes that it might shatter, sets the reader up for certain expectations. It is probably not a happy tale.
But then, it might be. Maybe the fury of the storm matches her passion for her lover. Or maybe she must go into that storm to visit her dying mother. Either way, the rain helped to set the mood. It would have been a different scene if the sun had been shinning.
Abundance, or lack, of food
Depending on your story, how much food is available might be a huge plot point. Maybe your character has been left alone, with nothing but a gun. In the forest, with the right kind of character, that might be just fine. In the mountains, maybe less so. In the desert that poor sucker is screwed.
Or maybe your setting your story in a small fishing town. The fish are migrating away because the waters are getting colder. Maybe there are no good farming lands, and this country has to trade heavily with other countries.
If you are writing about a war zone, you need to know the lay of the land. More importantly, your character does, or at least someone in charge does. It is vital for battle strategy to know where the high ground, low ground and nearest water supply is.
Plot bunnies abound! If you are stuck in your plot, send a big rain storm that washes up some evidence of wrongdoing. Need more action, tornado. More tension, let’s have a flood.
And finally, maps. You need two.
Yes, two. One is for you, to give you an idea of where your important places are, what they’re geography is,and how long it will take for your characters to get from point a to b.
If you write fantasy, you need a nice map too. For the inside cover. If you’re going the traditional route, the publisher might do this for you. If you’re self publishing, do not skip this step. Fantasy readers have come to expect this. Don’t disappoint them, most of them have replica swords.