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The process behind writing a novel, as told through the genius of Sir Terry Pratchett and his quotable sayings.

Step one is always to remember:

The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.” —The Truth

Okay Sir Terry. I will keep my pen sharp, my prose sharper. Let’s do this!

Step two: Receive Idea from Universe. Translate idea into story. Insert plot. This isn’t plotty enough. Add conflict. Stir. I’m only a third done. Possibly . . . a fourth. Oh gods. Any thoughts on the correct attitude for a writer Terry?

“There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say: This glass is half full. And then there are those who say: This glass is half empty.

The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What’s up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don’t think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass! Who’s been pinching my beer?” —The Truth

Step three: I’m not sure I can do this. There’s so much more to it than I ever imagined, and it only gets harder, instead of easier. Sir Terry, this seems impossible sometimes.

“It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of history” —Equal Rites

Step four: Onward I go then, ignorant of the possibility of failure. Hang a shrine to Dory above my writing space and just keep trying. I’m doing this. It’s flowing! Look at all these neat descriptions!!

“Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind.” —Eric

Step five: Right, yes. Sorry, Sir Terry. I’ll tone it down.

“Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.” —Hogfather

Step six: That puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, PTerry. This manuscript might be more rising ape than anything angelic. But I’m doing this. Critiqued and edited, polished, fixed, shined and fixed again. Is this hard work worth it?

“If you trust in yourself . . . and believe in your dreams . . . and follow your star . . . you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy” —The Wee Free Men

Step seven: It’s done. It’s going to be published, one way or another, and people may like it. Fragments of my soul will rest in their hands while I trust that they will treat them with kindness. Or at least keep their scathing one-star reviews on Amazon where nobody cares. And they might give me money for them, which seems to be a fair exchange. It could even be a success!

Any parting thoughts Sir Terry?

“Always remember that the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading, People like a show.” —Going Postal

Both succinct, and cruel. Brilliant.

On a related note, Terry Pratchett is everything awesome about worldbuilding, magic, sass, characters, and humor and you should definitely read his books. Although he left us in 2015, his books are already considered classics and he lives on while his name is still spoken. Start here with a suggested reading order from the Discworld Emporium.