10 Terry Pratchett Quotes as Excellent Writing Prompts

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Author: Jo
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that you can never have too many writing prompts. And also: you can never get enough Terry Pratchett.

Today (or at least the day we wrote this blog), 28th April, is Terry Pratchett’s birthday, and high time you re-read your favourite Discworld novel — or pick one up for the first time if you’ve never had the pleasure.

To celebrate the master of heart-smashing satire, we thought we’d give you a little inspiration in the form of quotes from the Pratchett canon which also double as intriguing and imagination-poking story starters.

So pick your favourite quote, craft a character or situation around it, and see what emerges…

[Hint: it may help to set yourself a timer for 20 minutes and challenge yourself to keep writing until it goes ‘ping’!]

Ready? Gird your pencils. Let’s go:

1. Write about a character who’s a magnet for trouble:

If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!

— The Colour of Magic

Gif of a shirtless white man stanidng in front of an American flag in a storm yelling "You call this a storm?"

2. Tell us a tale of trickery, sleight of hand, and maybe just a little faith:

It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.

— A Hatful of Sky
Gif of a Looney Toons cartoon in which Droopy saws a dog in half during a magic trick. The dog hops out of the top-most box and swaggers off but then the bottom part of his body walks in the opposite direction.

3. Explore the naunces of aging gracefully (or not):

Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.”

— Moving Pictures
Gif of an old white man with two walking sticks on a dance floor. He throws the sticks to the ground and starts busting moves.

4. Find the feeling inside a song:

It was sad music. But it waved its sadness like a battle flag. It said the universe had done all it could, but you were still alive.”

— Soul Music
Gif of James Brown in a red robe singing with intense feeling

5. Write about a ridiculous amount of money:

Steal five dollars and you’re a common thief. Steal thousands and you’re either the government or a hero.

— Going Postal
Gif of a white man walking to the end of a diving board and doing a somersault into an endless pool of paper money.

6. Find the comical side of failure:

It was amazing how many friends you could make by being bad at things, provided you were bad enough to be funny.”

— Reaper Man
Gif of a white toddler boy in checked dungarees picking the head of a flower, but the momentum sends him staggering back onto his bottom.

7. Rewrite a fairy tale:

“This was not a fairy-tale castle and there was no such thing as a fairy-tale ending, but sometimes you could threaten to kick the handsome prince in the ham-and-eggs.”

— Monstrous Regiment
Gif of a princely looking white man in a purple outfit complete with a feather in his hat trotting along on a hobby horse in front of a castle.

8. Write about an irresistible temptation:

Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying ‘End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH’, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.”

— Thief of Time
Gif of a cartoon suitcase containing a keyboard, coloured lights, an official looking screen and a big red button.

9. Tell us about a character who knows exactly who they are:

She walked quickly through the darkness with the frank stride of someone who was at least certain that the forest, on this damp and windy night, contained strange and terrible things and she was it.

— The Wyrd Sisters
Gif of tree branches in front of a full moon.

And finally, the most important of all:

10. Keep a memory alive with your writing:

Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?

— Going Postal

GNU Terry Pratchett. Forever missed but never forgotten.

Now go write something and make him proud.

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