Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Sir Terry Pratchett


It seems apt this week that I’m using a quote by Sir Terry Pratchett, when my brain is steeped in fantasy! In truth I always try to remember these words, because I have a tendency to avoid difficult emotional scenes – especially those involving death.

Terry Pratchett

I like to use humour in my work. I’m not always successful, but I give it my best shot. The humour in my Morgan and Fairchild series (not fantasy) comes from my brother and the stories he shares with me about the camaraderie within the army. It’s a fact that in certain professions humour is a necessity if only to deal with the difficulties of the job. But that doesn’t mean I should shy away from describing the physical and emotional effects of battle. I’m learning that with my latest character. She has an acerbic wit, which I use to balance things out when the situation calls for it. But as for the horrors of war – I try to reflect that to the best of my ability.

What about you? How do you deal with scenes involving tragedy and death? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Don’t forget to visit Colleen’s place, where you will find an array of inspiring quotes.

Thanks for stopping by.


26 responses to “Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Sir Terry Pratchett”

  1. I like that quote Mel. I always have a hard time with murder and death too. I like how he says people are going to get hurt if there is a fight going on. I guess that means to let the scene play out in your mind, blood, gore and all! Thanks for sharing such an excellent point of view! ❤

  2. I have spent a lot of time studying humor, which is a lousy approach to adding humor to writing. Frankly, I didn’t know what else to do. I love humor in writing and find mine too stark.

    I’m still working on it.

    Tragedy and death–they are part of life. I think we do children a disservice trying to exclude them. There are ways to make it age-appropriate, but one is not to ignore the existence.

  3. This is a great quote and a very interesting subject. I read an interview with the writer of the Saga series, Brian K. Vaughan, where he said that he isn’t afraid to kill off his readers’ favourite characters because we read fiction to prepare ourselves for the things we face in the real world, such as death. I thought it was a really good point, but I absolutely understand the difficulty in saying goodbye to a beloved character we have created.

    • I definitely need to take a leaf out of Vaghan’s book, because it terrifies me! But it’s getting easier. It means I suffer too, as I would any beloved character whether written by me or another author. I agree with the point about preparing ourselves for ‘real life.’ It’s an important thing to remember, I think. We learn so many things by reading, and that’s just one of the many gifts found between the pages of a book. Thanks for your insight, Callum 😀

  4. I reckon let the blood (metaphorical or otherwise) drip onto the page – even menstrual blood – if it falls in with ‘Vernor’s Law’ – apparently Vernor Vinge said, ‘All scenes need to accomplish at least two of three things: 1 Provide background information, 2 develop the characters, and 3 advance the plot’ … I’ve got it printed out and taped to my wall … every time I get a little waver-y about what needs to happen in a scene I look up and there’s Vernor, getting me back on track. 🙂

    • That’s sound advice. I have notes and lists taped everywhere, for every stage of the process! My checklists are legendary! Thanks for the input. I will add Vernor’s wisdom to the toolkit 😀

  5. Love that quote. It’s so true! I find it hard to get into a story when there’s too much or too little humor, but the stupid deaths thing is a good point. I’ll have to keep that in mind for future tales. 🙂

    • I agree with you about the humour. I’m currently reading A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore and he uses humour exceptionally well. In the beginning it was laugh out loud funny, which was a great hook. The further I get, the easier it is to see how well he balances the different emotions of the characters. I’m loving it! 😀

  6. That’s a great quote! But then Terry Pratchett is a god amongst writers. I also like to use humour in my writing, but I definitely have to keep myself in check and make sure that the story still develops as it should and that the serious elements are also fully developed. Getting that balance right between the serious and comical is the hardest part really!

  7. Hi Mel! Great quote 🙂
    I must say that as a writer I love flushing out a real guttural fight or harrowing death – I take pride in those scenes and stretch my craft to its limit to give the absolute ultimate experience I can… I’m almost a little sadistic at times when I catch myself thinking, “Oh, ya… this’ll really rip their heart out.” As a reader though, a death or tragedy, if well written, almost always makes me cry and my chest ache… when I feel those scenes coming I get tense and nervous but I can never put the book down! 😉
    I also like to try and lighten the mood when things get heavy in my writing (though I’m far from humorous myself)… I tend to rely on sarcasm and the innate knowledge that we gotta make pie from a cow patty sometimes – lol!

    • Lol! I think I must retain a great deal of the reader in me, and in truth it often feels like the writer is a separate entity! I enjoy battle scenes, and like to stretch my muscles too – I just waver when it comes to my characters getting hurt. I’m learning to get over it! Thanks for sharing your perspective 😀

  8. Mel, I write for my blog, and have published some short stories. Your question made me think about when I was reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I was approaching the end and all seemed to be going how I love stories to end, happy ever after, when shocking news is delivered about a character. I exclaimed out loud, “Oh No!” and burst in to tears. Just like real life. When an author can deliver this kind of emotional response, I read everything they write!

I’d love to hear from you.

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