I'm not talking a single-biome sand-world. Of course I want the classic large sand seas, but I also want steppes, mesas and buttes, floodplains, salt pans, hamadas, and canyons, both hot and not so hot, and regions with unique weather patterns. You know, like earth, but overall a lot drier and with way less dense vegetation.
This planet needs to still support indigenous complex life with an earth-like atmospheric composition. I'm not against large bodies of water to help regulate extreme temperatures and produce seasonal precipitation, but I don't want regions that are hydrated year-round. I like the idea of savannas that are dry for most of the year and then water-logged for a few months, or Atacama-like deserts with heavy fog banks.
Would it work to alter the planet's atmosphere so that fog, rain, and snow are possible, but where shallow water evaporates very quickly? Or might I need to alter the composition of the soil itself so that it doesn't retain water? Might there be other ways to achieve this?