Worldbuilding: When It’s Cold Outside

What do characters do, in weather like this?  Hunker down and pray? Dive out into the chill to enjoy it? Go “Eh,” wave a hand, and have a personal Spring following them around?

(I’m kind of with the hunkering; I hate being cold. Hate it.)

Each of these options imply different things about both the world of the book and the characters themselves. What the climate’s like. What the level of tech and power available to a particular character is. Going out into the snow when you’ve got hot cocoa waiting back home? Annoying. Going out when you’re coming back to a shack with no firewood? Life-threatening. Going out when you can melt the entire mountain slope with a wave of your hand?

…That might be life-threatening too, eventually. Given the locals might arrest you for the crime of being Lina Inverse.

(Okay, probably not that exactly. But your character might have the dastardly nicknames of Causer of Avalanches, Harbinger of Winter Floods, and all-around Enemy to All Yeti-Kind.)

(That’s assuming skiers don’t descend on the character in one brightly-colored insulted swarm. But eh, if you can do avalanches, skiers are probably a walk in the park….)

Long story short, a character’s reaction to wintry conditions, or any other potentially dangerous environmental hazard, can let you say a lot about both how much power someone in your setting has, and whether or not they’re willing to use it, regardless of consequences.

So what’s your character willing to do for that cup of cocoa?



29 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: When It’s Cold Outside

  1. (I’m kind of with the hunkering; I hate being cold. Hate it.)

    I hunker. I don’t particularly enjoy being cold but I prefer it over feeling like I’m turning to a puddle of human goo from heat and humidity. Because if I’m too cold, I can layer. Whereas if you are too hot you can only remove so many layers of clothing before someone pitches a fit . . . or you might be comfortable temperature wise but uncomfortable everything else wise . . .

    Have to be careful through. Cold, dry air triggers my asthma.

    But eh, if you can do avalanches, skiers are probably a walk in the park….

    Never underestimate a swarm.

    Besides the blizzard can’t think whereas those annoyed skiers can . . . and unless your character is weirder than they think, at least some of them will bank on the fact that s/he/them has to sleep sometime.

    . . . a character’s reaction . . . .


    Can tell you a lot about them physically too. Handy when the character isn’t human or only partially human or by the powers is so off factory standard human that all bets are off . . .

    And their health, since common medical conditions can be worsen by certain weather conditions – see above remark about cold, dry air.

    So what’s your character willing to do for that cup of cocoa?

    Some of them, quite a bit. Through for some of them that’s less of a hot beverage thing and more of a chocolate thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear you. I HATE the cold!

    Unfortunately I just moved back onto UNG’s campus and there is SNOW and ICE!

    Before that I was southwest of Atlanta and kept a space-heater running in my room.

    PRT is going to be hideous. Blue lips, freezing extremities, and all.

    Sometimes I wish I were Elsa. “The cold never bothered me anyway~”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The fun(ha) thing is moving from the South, where snow days actually happen, to the North, where it’s business as usual no matter if the roads are a Slippy Slidy Ice World and you can’t see out of your windshield without a half hour of defrost.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I’ve contemplated walking outside barefoot in the snow at temperatures similar to where I guess you are seems to be now. Inside the past week. It was bright outside, and I was a bit nuts from lack of sleep.

    And where I live now doesn’t really get cold the way where I used to live does. Even so, that place was very far from being one of the really cold places.


  5. …I just got done with a week with 24 inches of snow(16 inches in 8 hours), -15 degree temps overnights and a crazy thaw that just had four inches of slush over ice.

    I loathe cold. Definitely bundling, hot drinks, and lots of sleep. (As for too hot, no such thing here. I might put on shorts if it gets 110. Might)


    1. *Winces* Ooo yes, I remember slush over ice, sometimes compounded by snow. Ironically we lose power far less often down here with hurricanes than I was used to up North – and given where I was, even 2 weeks knocked out by a hurricane doesn’t break the winter power-outage record for me….


      1. I will say this for my local power company, the longest anyone is usually without power is three days. Then again, newer lines and hydroelectric power make a huge difference.

        Though winter doesn’t phase them, it’s when we get the 90mph+ wind gusts about every ten years that really blasts through power lines.

        And hey, hibernation is a perfectly valid winter strategy for a reason.


  6. Oh man, I absolutely HATE the cold. I wear like two pairs of socks, fuzzy house slippers, and my feet are still cold! Brrr! Sometimes I write characters who don’t notice the cold just so I bask in the irony. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My limit for what I’ll do for hot chocolate is be chased through 9-10 inch deep snow by an 11-year old for 15 minutes. Dressed for a western Washington autumn, not Michigan winter.

    On a completely different note, have you heard this song ( yet? Listening to it I found myself thinking about Sinbad’s generals and how they might react if he died.


  8. I’m one of those freakish people that actually likes winter. I’m not crazy enough to wander around in short sleeves and flip flops while it’s snowing outside, but I do enjoy the cold, the clarity of the starlight, and looking up at a pale gray sky through barren branches. I like how quiet the world gets when it snows… and I still like snowball fights and making snow forts, even though I’m probably too old for it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember high school. Minnesota, dead of winter, lots of snow and below freezing… and there was this one girl wandering around in flip flops. Her poor, poor feet, they had seen better days. She said she was protesting the weather. I figured she could protest all she liked- but her sanity obviously went on strike rather than deal with it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I used to have a lot more cold tolerance before some health stuff happened.

      Snow on the ground was a rare treat to go out walking in, because of the solitude and relative quiet.


  9. On Christmas Eve my mom dragged my sisters, 11-year-old aunt, and I outside to build snowmen to greet Santa. Her mom helped, didn’t even complain. I’m in college. If my grandmother isn’t too old for building snowmen, I doubt you are.


  10. My current main character would gallop in on his comanion and save the fire for the Karsites. (I just stayed up till 6 am reading Brightly Burning. I didn’t even know about this ‘verse before you started writing Through the Cracks and now I can’t get enough of it.)

    But I grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and once spent a summer interning in St. Louis without any. Air conditioning. Whatsoever. After those two extremes I feel like anything else I encounter (unless I move drastically north or south) isn’t worth complaining about. I just grit my teeth and keep moving.

    Which is a part of what you’re asking. How stubborn are they when it comes to local weather?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Heh. I hate the cold.

    Unfortunately, I am also quite allergic to the heat. Even heat generated by my body. (Which means layering up for winter weather… can have very negative consequences if I walk for more than a few minutes outside!)

    Luckily, I now live in southern Newfoundland. Which is a hell of a lot more moderate in terms of weather extremes (except for the snow levels) than Toronto, where I used to live.

    Also luckily, my characters tend to have a bit more resistance to weather extremes than I do. At least a bit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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