Your Magic Garden

Hello SErs. Harmony here. Have any of you heard of a walled garden for fiction? I hadn’t until last year. And once I saw it in one place, I came across it in a whole load of other places. Other names it goes by are Magic Garden and Secret Garden. With my current WIP, I created a whole new world based on settled space and realised I could use this idea for lots of other books and short stories. That would be my secret garden.


A walled garden is a body of work you build that shares themes, tone, structure, and word building.

Why does your garden need a wall around it?

Because this will become your secret playground. A safe place for your muse to hang out and have fun. … Without having to build a whole new world, etc., every time you start something new. It’s something that’s just for you that you don’t want other people seeing.

Until late last year, I had no fiction common ground between any of the books or stories I had written. And then I had a play. I took my novel The Glade and chose one scene. From that one scene, I wrote a 3,000 word short story, which used The Glade as common ground, but the rest of the story turned out quite differently, even though they shared the same basic idea and setting. What fun!

Ways to use your walled garden:

  • Create spin-off series
  • Use the same setting but with new characters
  • Use the same characters but in new settings
  • Write fiction that has no obvious connection but shares common ground with your other work (stories that look different but share the same core, E.G: The Glade and its short story spin-off)
  • Create a whole new set but with ties back to your original set

My current WIP is set on Exxon 1, one of 6 planets in the Exxon system. They each share two red moons. Exxon 1 is large and totalitarian, and it has no place names–just numbered zones.

I have other story ideas in mind that could make the Exxon system part of my magic garden. For example, my next novel will likely be set on Exxon 6, the furthest planet out in the system. It is also the smallest and the friendliest. Every part has a name given to it by the original settlers. However, the theme and tone will turn out quite differently from my current book. My novel in progress is dystopian and post-apocalyptic. The next one will be a scary one, more in the vein of Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Yet both share the same common ground.

The above example would fall into the last on the list above … creating a whole new set but with ties back to the original set. It’s still in the Exxon system, but it’s nothing like Exxon 1.

I’m finding that building and growing my walled garden is giving me lots of easy idea generation for both connected and unconnected stories of varying lengths.

Another use, not on the list above, is using your secret garden for promotion and blogging. It isn’t on the list because, strictly speaking, it’s not writing fiction. One of the best examples of this use of your walled garden is Craig Boyack’s Lisa Burton with his wide range of artwork and the ‘radio blog posts’, etc.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on walled gardens. Do you have a secret garden? If not, would you like to give it a go? I look forward to seeing your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


Harmony Kent

50 thoughts on “Your Magic Garden

  1. Very interesting. I had not heard it called this, but the nomenclature is lovely. The “walled garden” of my Wytchfae series gives me comfort and yet excitement when starting a new story. Thanks for the post. I want to read your dystopian and apocalyptic ! Those fascinate me.

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    • Ooh, sounds we share a love of the dystopian/apocalyptic. I always love it when that excitement is there at the start. Best of luck, Flossie 🙂


  2. An imaginary magic garden is right up my alley because I kill anything green! Lol! 😉 My current WIP probably fits into that because I’m taking one character from my series and giving him the opportunity to tell his story. I’ve thought of writing short stories for other characters, staying in same world but giving them the spotlight. I’ll see if putting energy there produces something. 🙂

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  5. Being a bis Stephen King fan, I’m all over the ‘walled garden’ idea. His locations, characters and themes all cross over into other books frequently. I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it in my writing (or not easily). My first series (current series) is set in 1880s wild west times (albeit in a slightly different world to our own), while my next series will be 300AD Rome / Britain. Going to be difficult to cross those over! Still, I do love a challenge 🙂

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  6. I love the Secret Garden concept, Harmony. I was immediately taken back to a guided meditation I once did where I walked through the arched gate into my secret garden and wandered through to a bench where I sat and communicated with my Spirit Guides. The experience and lingering visual is powerful! Your new WIP sounds fun! Thanks for sharing today.

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  7. I have heard of this before and I am always reminded of “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Perhaps this is where it gets its name? Anyway, it is a lovely children’s story and a great idea for a collection of stories. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I’ve never heard of a walled graden before. I like the term. I guess that’s what Ive been doing my last two books and the one I’m currently working on. I’ve stayed in a world with angels and evildwels, I enjoy all you can do with it but not stuck in one storyline with new characters. I’m excited about your new stories and new world. Plus, mentioning King, Koontz and post apocalyptic you have my attention:)

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    • Sounds like a lot of writers are using the technique without knowing the name for it. Yay, I love it that my WIP and next planned book have caught your attention! 😊

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  9. I’ve never encountered this term for it before, but I’ve been doing this with my fiction since… forever, it seems. All of my stories are interconnected, even the ones I’ll (probably) never write. To me, it makes sense to write about different characters in the same setting, or send old characters somewhere new to see what sort of trouble they can get themselves into (I particularly enjoy doing this), but abandoning something known and loved in favor of the completely new every time…? Nope. I’d rather take the time to get to know characters and settings better over the course of many, many stories.

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  10. If I follow this correctly, then I think I’ve done this by creating my fictional town of Hode’s Hill from which I’m spinning a series. I could also take a few of those characters out of HH and use them in another setting. My Point Pleasant series is set in an actual town, but I put my own spin on the folklore associated with it. There is also a particular character from that series I’ve often thought of spinning a series of novellas around. That would qualify too, right?

    At present, I’m building another “walled garden” as I create a place for my characters and muse to play, complete with town development, history and legends.

    Fun post, Harmony!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve never heard of this, but it’s fascinating. I do versions of this now… I have a spinoff series in the works, although it takes place in a real city. But I have a made up city that I love that could be my private walled garden. I once had spinoffs planned for that, too, but it didn’t happen. So many stories to write, so little time.

    Thanks for teaching me about walled gardens. 🙂

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    • Yes, Charles. The world you create for your books is your walled garden. It’s a metaphor that’s a lot bigger than an actual garden, lol. To wall it means that you keep your world for your own fiction. Some authors–Hugh Howey with his Silo Series comes to mind–share their worlds. Hugh Howey allowed other writers to fan fiction the heck out of the silo worlds. Which means that’s no longer in his walled garden. It’s out there for everyone to copy and use. I hope this makes sense? … I’m not too clear-headed myself this morning, lol. Need sleep. And coffee … 🙂

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      • I get it now. I’ve always wondered if I could nurture Windemere to a point where other authors could write stories in it. There are a lot of fantasy authors who put out anthologies of stories in their world by other authors. Feels like a fun way to help a new author get some experience.

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