By Michael James Liljenberg.
Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds
And God said, 'Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.' So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse 'sky'. And there was evening, and there was morning - the second day.
Day 2: Let There Be An Expanse: Weather
As the second day dawns we want to consider the sea, sky, and the climate. Weather is an often-overlooked element in fantasy worlds.
The interaction of the sea and sky drive our weather systems. In the equatorial latitudes the winds blow east to west, this is largely do to the earth's rotation; the ground is spinning faster than the layer of air above it. This wind drives warm humid air from the Atlantic across Brazil until it hits the wall of the Andes Mountains, where it dumps out all that water into the Amazon basin. It continues across the South Pacific, holding back a huge warm water current. In years where the winds are less powerful than normal that warm water current streams back eastward creating an 'el Nino'. The winds load up with moisture again that, guided by the towering Himalayan Mountains, they dump across the Siam and Indian peninsulas. There is no rain left as they hit the mountains of Afghanistan and Iran. On the equator the winds hit the mountains of central Africa and pour down into the Congo and the Ethiopian highlands where it flows into the Nile and Congo rivers. In the north the winds, dried out after their journey across Afghanistan and Arabia blow across thousands miles of the Sahara Desert. When they hit the equatorial Atlantic again, especially in late summer they suck up so much moisture so quickly they spawn powerful tropical storm systems. The winds in the mid-latitudes blow the other way, and those winds drive the weather in most of North America, Europe, and Asia. This doesn't even get into Jet Streams, High Pressure ridges, storm fronts and all the other features of our complex climate.
We live on a meteorologically diverse world. There can be a chain of hurricanes crashing into the Caribbean while drought withers crops in the Western US and France has the best wine year in a decade. But most of the worlds we can see through our telescopes are very homogeneous. Mars is a giant desert with two basic conditions: cold and clear, or sandstorm. Sometimes the sandstorms can cover the whole of the surface. Jupiter's weather is so consistent, that humans have observed the cyclonic hurricane of the Great Red Spot for almost 500 years. Of course, the main difference between the earth and those other planets is the presence of water in all three states: solid (glaciers), liquid (oceans), and gas (clouds).
So as you create your world, think of the sky and the winds and the rains, the water cycle. What is the weather like on your world, or at least the part of the world of your story? What direction is the prevailing wind? Does it change based on the seasons? How much rain or snow falls in the area(s) of your story? How warm or cold is the average temperatures? The weather will affect the characters and their civilizations. It will affect the kind of architecture designed, the growing season and kinds of crops and livestock farmed by those civilizations. It will affect clothes. Scantily clad warrior babes aren't going to be frolicking around in the high mountain snows. Heavily armored knights will bake in their plate mail riding across a desert. The weather can be an obstacle your heroes must overcome in their quest.
Don't forget to consider your magic and technology systems and how they integrate into the weather system. In the Jack Chalker's Changewinds, magical storms transform whole villages of people into magical creatures. In the movie The Day After Tomorrow, human pollution causes a series of storms that cause an instant ice age. In the Greek myths Zeus causes storms and rains lightning bolts down on any who oppose him.
Weather can also be used symbolically. In The Lord of the Rings an east wind is an ominous sign of Sauron's power. East winds bring destructive storms, clouds of overshadowing darkness, plague, and war. The west winds are inherently noble. They bring healing and light; they blow away the darkness and bring rains that cool, cleanse, and nourish. They are a symbol that the real battle is a spiritual war occurring on something of a divine plane between the heavenly forces of good in The West and Sauron in The East.
Usually the core of your story is that something is fundamentally wrong with the world and your heroes have to fix it. Something fundamentally wrong with the universe of your story will often result in unusual if not downright devastating changes in the weather.
As the second day comes to an end, consider the climate, the winds, and the waters of your world. It is the first stage of building the environment of your world. Keep your ideas in mind as you move into the third day of creation. Remember the key to creating a realistic world is to build the world as a whole. Don't write your ideas in stone yet. Be ready to modify them to fit new developments and ideas as you build more of your world.
Day 0: Theology
Day 1: Physics
Day 2: Weather
Day 3: Geography
Day 4: Astronomy & Planetology
PDF: Solar System Worksheet
Day 5: Animals
PDF: Ecoshpere Worksheet
Day 6: Man (& other races)
Part 1: Culture
Part 2: Economics & Government
PDF: Civilization Worksheet
Day 7: The Rest - of the Story
www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cfjps/1400/circulation.html This page is from Dr. John Stimac's Climate course at Eastern Illinois University. There are other charts and diagrams for storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather phenomena.
http://hiddenway.tripod.com/world/ an index of site for creating fantasy and science fiction worlds, from mapping software to academic papers on population growth.
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
One of the most popular books for aspiring Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers. Card suggests creating your story's word as a great starting point to developing your story.
World Building By Stephen L. Gillette
A geologist by day, Gillette writes a book from a very technical point of view. Full of reference tables on escape velocities and tectonic activities, it's a good reference for creating scientifically realistic planets and solar systems.
FARP Article Guestbook
|19 Jul 2006|| Marika Viklund|
Wow this is good! Really interesting, also it made me feel really smart as I had taken the weather into the thinking when I created my world!
But there's always something you've forgotten. I'm looking forward to read the rest of the world creating tutorial! It seems you've really thought this trough well! And now I feel really inspired too... must write things... *trudges off into the woods*
|18 Aug 2007|| Sheniira|
Good enough to NOT make me regret that I had to print it 5 times. ^^
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