Climate and geography can effect a character’s life in a variety of ways, and making use of those impacts can help you create a fuller environment.
The most basic ways that climate affects a character is adjusting everyday details like choices in clothing, what activities are available, possibility for adverse conditions, feelings toward weather or impacts on mood, and ability to spend time outdoors.
On another level, climate can effect a character’s worldview. For example, harsh climates often create harsh existences. Characters must struggle against the elements for survival as well as regular human problems. This can create physically and emotionally tough characters. Easier, softer environments may mean a character is less prepared for harsh situations or has a more optimistic or positive outlook.
Climate also affects the hobbies and skills a character might develop, as well as what opportunities or knowledge he or she might have. You won’t find many year-round ice rinks in the hot, Southwestern United States, but in colder northern states many children grow up playing hockey rather than soccer.
Being vague about climate is not a substitute for research and planning, so don’t just ignore it. Not only will you miss out on opportunities to create a character with more depth, your scenes may feel a little lackluster.
What part of the world a character inhabits affects a wide variety of setting aspects.
The physical location will determine what types of plants and animals live in the area. It’s hard to have an alligator as a means of disposing of a body in Idaho, but an all-too-real possibilities in coastal Louisiana.
Geography al effects characters’ access to other areas, such as living in an isolated cabin in winter where the plows don’t maintain the roads, or different types of ecosystems. Physical location will also determine what dialect a character uses, though you don’t want to overdo it with regionalisms or colloquialisms in dialogue.
It’s also important to consider whether a geographical location has pronounced or “drug-in” views on politics or religion, a unique culture, or social structures that are not mainstream, and whether or not a character will fall in line with those aspects of their location or not. Researching these setting aspects also offers up great opportunities to make the setting more unique and memorable.
Manmade geography should also be considered when developing a setting’s geographical location. Dams, buildings, and monuments not only change the natural geography but can influence how man’s influence on nature is perceived.
Dig into the climate and geographical location of your setting to see what elements can be used to enhance the setting, characters, and story.