Sir Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the phenomenally successful Discworld novels, as well as a number of first class children’s books, died yesterday aged only 66.

I was first introduced to his writing nearly twenty years ago when a friend recommended the Discworld book, Reaper Man.

reaper-man-1 I loved it and have since read many of his other books, including some of his excellent children’s novels.

His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971 and he went on to write more than 70 books in the next 43 years. That is pretty extraordinary by anyone’s standards.

In an interview in The Internet Writing Journal in 2000, Terry Pratchett had this to say about writing:

Everyone finds their own way of doing things. I certainly don’t sit down and plan a book out before I write it. There’s a phrase I use called “The Valley Full of Clouds.” Writing a novel is as if you are going off on a journey across a valley. The valley is full of mist, but you can see the top of a tree here and the top of another tree over there. And with any luck you can see the other side of the valley. But you cannot see down into the mist. Nevertheless, you head for the first tree. At this stage in the book, I know a little about how I want to start. I know some of the things that I want to do on the way. I think I know how I want it to end. This is enough. The thing now is to get as much down as possible. If necessary, I will write the ending fairly early on in the process. Now that ending may not turn out to be the real ending by the time that I have finished. But I will write down now what I think the conclusion of the book is going to be. It’s all a technique, not to get over writer’s block, but to get 15,000 or 20,000 words of text under my belt. When you’ve got that text down, then you can work on it. Then you start giving yourself ideas.”

I’ve read quite a lot of advice about writing, much of it from accomplished authors, but Terry Pratchett’s attitude particularly inspires and enthuses me.

Dedicating your life to fulfilling and enjoyable work (which, ideally, produces a nice income) is one of the things that makes life worth living. Terry Pratchett loved writing, and people loved reading what he wrote. It was the perfect scenario.



26 thoughts on “Sir Terry Pratchett

  1. I like his work too Lorna, and was sad to find out this morning that he is gone. The first book I was ever lent of his, by a friend of my husband, was Mort, funnily enough 🙂 Now I will have to read Reaper Man too! (Next I discovered Vimes and the Watch, so I tracked down as many novels with those characters in as I could…) I did think the three Death-themed tweets were a very classy farewell indeed, and very poignant. As to the advice, I like it a whole lot. I have vague ideas and would love to write a novel, and i’m sure even I could do it if I approached it like that. In fact, I am going to. Decision decided. tomorrow is Saturday, and I shall begin 🙂

    • If you enjoyed Mort I think you’d like Reaper Man. I also really like the Vimes books. He created so many memorable characters. I agree with you about the tweets, they were a very fitting response, and you can’t help wondering if Death is anything like TP imagined it (or rather, him). I’m delighted to hear about the inspiration to crack on with a novel. His death seems to have inspired my writing, too. I wish you all the very best with it and look forward to hearing how you get on.

    • I find his words encouraging. It’s reassuring to know that even the greatest writers begin with vague ideas and it’s only by working on them in the dark, so to speak, that they form into more solid thoughts that eventually turn into novels. Some writing advice declares that it’s only by careful planning at every step of the way that you can hope to achieve a finished novel. That obviously isn’t true, given TP’s success.

    • I find I can sometimes get a bit bogged down by reading too much advice rather than just getting on with things, but TP’s words are very encouraging to me. As he says, the important thing is to write even when you don’t know where you’re going. I like that way of operating.

    • I would like to read his non-fiction, I’ve only read his novels so far. I was just thinking yesterday that I must have read more of TP’s words than just about anyone else’s because he was so prolific. It’s strange to think that what he wrote has filled my mind so much, but I certainly don’t regret it.

  2. I’ve not read his work, but was inspired by what he wrote about his writing process…guess it is all about writing…getting the words down…then you can edit, adjust, add to it…but you have to get the words down first… thanks for the inspiration and I will look for his books.

  3. An amazingly inspiration man …so cool looking …so different …so glad to have lived in his life time and yet ,I am ashamed to say! I haven’t read one of his books…I can not believe it . I read books till they come out of my ears , children’s books included , and for some reason not his . I got one from the library once and I couldn’t get on with it …I think my head was somewhere else . You know what … I consider myself lucky and one up on all those dedicated fans , you included ,..think of all that catch up I can do when you and the others have read them all he he just joking …lovely man sadly missed . Thank you for remembering him and bringing his works to our attention.

  4. I wonder which one you tried. Some are more gripping than others. My favourite children’s ones are the Johnny Maxwell series (‘Only you can save mankind’, ‘Johnny and the dead’, and ‘Johnny and the bomb’) and in the Discworld series I particularly enjoyed ‘Reaper Man’, ‘Mort’, ‘Hogfather’, ‘Men at Arms’, ‘Witches Abroad’, ‘Going Postal’…I’d better stop or I’ll end up naming them all. The only one I’ve never been able to get right through is the first Discworld one, The Colour of Money, but I think they got better after that (or more to my taste). He was a fine man, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re all more aware of Alzheimer’s Disease now, because he did a lot to raise awareness of it. He will be much missed by many people worldwide, but you’re right, it has been a privilege to live in his lifetime.

  5. A very sad loss, I agree, Lorna. I think Terry Pratchett faced dementia with great courage and dignity. I am interested to read about his approach to writing novels – it’s reassuring to know that you don’t have to start out with a clear plan of everything!

    • Very true, Jo, it must have been extremely difficult for him and yet he made the best of it. I was much impressed that when he could no longer write with a pen or use a keyboard he said that dictating was a far better way of writing, although it must have been enormously difficult to make that transition. He struck me as a very positive person, determined to enjoy life whatever the circumstances. I take great comfort from his lack of planning when it comes to novel writing.

  6. My husband was an avid fan of Pratchett but I have to say that I didn’t appeciate the couple of books I read. Not my style of humour.

    • That’s one of Josh Kirby’s book covers. He designed the Discworld book jackets for many years, until he died in 2001. I believe the American versions of the books don’t have the same covers, which seems a pity because the covers make the books instantly recognisable. You might enjoy Discworld Annie, I would certainly recommend giving it a go. If you do like it there’s plenty to read, thanks to Pratchett’s enormous output.

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