May 28, 2013

Writing About: A House Or Garden

Writing about a house or garden may not be as thrilling as writing about a car accident or love scene, but I bet all my pens that you will have to write about a house or garden sooner or later while you’re writing your book. Why? Because unless your characters are cavemen, they should live in a house or apartment as you and I do. If your characters are royalty then they probably live in castle. In that case, you will have to take these tips and magnify them by ten.

When I have to describe a house or garden I always think about the house or garden of my dreams. You may think that once you write about one house, you won’t be able to write about another, but that’s not true. I have a few different ideas of a place I would like to live down to the furnishings and if you think hard enough you might find that you do too.

Think about your dream home and jot down everything that comes to mind from the chili pepper lights you want hung up in the kitchen to the paint colors on the walls. Use those notes to construct a well detailed vision of the house of one of your characters.

Also use this same strategy with a garden, but instead of paint colors you’ll be picturing your favorite flowers and trees. Is it a small, homely garden or a large, lavish one? Is there a granite bird bath, statues, a fountain?

Need help? Don’t worry! You can always scrounge through magazines for inspiration. You can even use Google to become more knowledgeable about flowers you want to bloom in your character’s garden, and items you want in your character’s home such as Tiffany lamps, Ming vases, and Persian rugs.

Reminiscing on a home from your childhood (your grandparent’s home, your best friend’s house) or a garden you once saw can also aide you in describing a home or garden. Just use your memories and what you remember about those places. And what is better than being able to immortalize your grandparent’s home in your writing?

TIP: While you’re writing about a house/garden keep in mind not to go overboard. You don’t want to bore your readers with too much description. Give enough details to paint an image in your reader’s mind.

SHARE: Your tips for writing about a house/garden.


  1. You are correct, eventually we all have to write about a house. In one of the stories of my series, the entire episode takes place in an old abandoned house. Though the rough draft started with it just being an old house, by the time I finished writing it, it seemed more of a mansion. (Maybe the house was just bigger on the inside)? So when I started to rewrite the episode, I did as you suggested above. I made notes of the house and mapped it out. And when I say mapped out, I mean that literally. Taking graph paper and drawing a make-shift blueprint. I also went through various magazines for ideas. I do that often, buy magazines for something I'm looking for idea about. I know I could search online, but something about having an actual magazine to page through is more appealing.

    In another episode, I had a character returning to a house an old girlfriend used to live in. I mapped that out as well so it would sound more realistic when he started to describe it to a friend he was with. Great advice you share.

    1. There's a saying that our characters change while we write them, and they become who/what they are meant to be, and I think the same is for the setting. We may think we know the setting or house but as we write, it changes. :)