Droughts can be powerful things. As usual, I started thinking about how we can use that in writing. What different types of droughts can we put our characters through or use in our plots?

The Classic Drought
This is a great one to use for epic worldbuilding. No rain means the crops fail, people start to go hungry. Are your characters the ones searching for food? Or the ones in charge of supplying it? Will previously warring nations have to negotiate a truce to ensure the food supply in the face of this natural disaster? Is there a fantasy component that can somehow bring the hope of rain? If you have a battle going on in the heat and drought, it brings in all sorts of challenges.

The Emotional Drought
Okay, yes, you can interpret this one in the strict romantic sense about – ahem – being in a dry spell. But it can also mean isolation, lack of friendship or the loss of a loved one. Sometimes, the emotion is still there, but it can’t be acted upon because of distance or a bishop's terrible curse.

The Skills Drought
This is another good one for fantasy writers. It happens when the main character’s magical talent runs dry. Maybe she has a mental block. Maybe daddy disowned him and tossed him out of the realm of demi-gods. Either way, it’s fun to see how your characters solve problems when they’re forced to do it without their greatest tool. It also creates an interesting dynamic with secondary characters. Will they stick with your hero, now that he or she is “human?” Or will they flee to a higher power?

The Rain!
Droughts in writing pack a double punch for readers. You pull them in through the trials of the drought, make them wonder how the characters will make it through, and then…just when things seem darkest…you bring in the rain for a swelling triumphant finish!

Now, if only someone could cue the rainclouds over my house.

How have you used droughts in your writing?


  1. Oooh, all very interesting ideas!

    You can have some of our rain if you like! I can't remember the last time we had a rain-free day.

    1. Maybe we could just trade off on our weather now and then. :)

  2. Yes, excellent ideas!
    My lawn is still green and growing. Damn.

  3. Excellent ideas! Totally agree!
    And I wish it'd rain too. SO HOT!

  4. Awesome post. Love these ideas. We don't have grass. We have rocks. (It's a southwest thing) :(

  5. I haven't. Stayed away from it on purpose in my Fantasy writing thus far.

  6. Hey,

    Never had to use droughts *in* my writing, but have suffered through droughts *of* my writing.

    It's not that I had writer's block, per se, but all of a sudden I couldn't write anym--


  7. Wow! Great post, Nicole!

    And yep, our lawn looks like straw, too.

  8. Leigh - It was 104 here all last week.
    Kimberly - The rocks might actually work better here right now. :)
    Misha - True. Don't want to overuse it.
    Mark - I've had a few of those droughts too. :)
    Jackie - Thanks!

  9. I'm working on getting my main character our of his skills drought as we speak so, alas, the rain can come. Luckily, my association deals with the dying lawn so I don't have to worry about. Try to stay cool!