The Novel Garden by LA Bourgeois

The Novel Garden by LA BourgeoisLet’s welcome back LA Bourgeois as she shares with us “The Novel Garden.” Enjoy!


While we may be familiar with drawing maps to build our worlds, we rarely think of our stories in the same way.

I love digging in the dirt, and my addiction to gardening shows that I am constantly thrilled by the brilliant colors of flowers and foliage. As I plotted out my garden plans last year, I began to eye my novel-in-progress in the same way.

What would it look like as a garden?

I began to draw it out, a little here, and a little there. Closing my eyes, I watched the path meander from a barren cliffside through a bramble hedge.

I added a tool shed for those indispensable necessities, and a veggie garden for substance. A walnut tree represented choices that seemed good but caused poor results. A gathering space served for community and the promise of friends.

The path spiraled in, flowers springing up and butterflies winging their way from petal to petal until I reached the folly, that central beautiful moment which, when entered, sent the main character right back out onto that barren cliff to overcome her main obstacle.

However, the portal works both ways, and by overcoming that obstacle, she can slip just as easily back into the haven I built for her.

The idea was new but set in winter, so spring colors fought with winter’s gray. The exercise felt like a dream of the novel, with ideas stored in each image that sprang to my mind.

Draw the Plan for Your Novel Garden

GardenWhen you imagine your novel as a garden, what does it look like? Draw out your garden plan without thinking too much about it. 

What season are you experiencing? The first buds of spring? The wild abundance of autumn? Perhaps the flowers are in full bloom, or winter’s chill is exposing the strong bare bones.

Is the landscape full of meandering paths? Maybe it’s a strictly formal garden, flowers regimented in rows. Or do you see something more like a corn maze? 

What buildings are in your garden? A simple greenhouse? Maybe a toolshed. Perhaps you need a magical glass castle of an arboretum. 

How about water? Is there a lake? A fountain? Maybe a waterfall or a chic pool.

What flowers are here? Trees? Brambles? Shrubs? Are you growing nutritious vegetables? Maybe you have a cottage garden where veggies are interplanted with flowers to cut? Or a tumbled quilt of wildflowers?

Does any wildlife make a home in your garden? Bees buzzing around the flowers and zipping back out to their hive? Maybe bunnies hop through the hedges. An old dog might curl up underneath the table.

Whether the images seem to go together or not, allow them to nestle into your landscape plan. This garden is imaginary, so everything is invited!

When you are done sketching the bones, pull out your colored pencils, markers, crayons, and paints! Add some color to your sketch and bring the image to life.

What Do You Discover within Your Novel Garden?

After you have completed the piece, set it aside for a day. When you return to it, what do you notice? What do each of the choices you made mean to your work? Is there meaning hiding under the lilies? Does clarity fill the central fountain?

Creativity rarely leads a linear path, even though fiction often moves that way. Fill your page full, and enjoy the vision of your abundant novel as a garden!



LA BourgeoisLA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois supports writers, makers, and other creatives in growing their creative businesses and breaking away from their day jobs.

As a creativity & business coach, she believes that exploring your creativity invites joy into your life, embracing your creativity infuses your life with joy, and manifesting your creativity gives you a joyous purpose. Writing and knitting are her non-negotiable mediums, and she can usually be found with a pen or knitting needles in her hands.

Find her free guide, Tricking Yourself into a Creative Habit online at and start writing those words today. She can’t wait to read them!

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  • Sue Leonard says:

    Hi LA –
    I really like this! Thanks for posting. Enjoyed reading it since I have a passion for all things flowers and gardens and writing!

  • LA Bourgeois says:

    Thanks, Sue! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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