Terry Pratchett Tribute: 93 Inspirational, Moving & Amusing Quotes

Terry Pratchett
Image Credit: telegraph.co.uk

Since publishing his first Discworld novel in 1983 – Terry Pratchett managed to achieve the remarkable feat of writing an average of 2 books per year, and selling 85,000,000 copies worldwide. An extraordinarily talented writer – he became one of the UK’s most successful authors of all time, and deservedly so.

In 2007 he was diagnosed with an early form of Alzheimer’s Disease, and passed away on the 12th of March 2015, at 66 years of age.

Here we have listed 93 of his most inspirational, moving and amusing quotes and passages from his books, by which to remember him.

Quick tip: You can quickly share your favourite quotes to Twitter or Facebook by simply highlighting any passage of text.


There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.

People couldn’t become truly holy, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked.

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.

The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.


Image Quote: The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.


Don’t think of it as dying, just think of it as leaving early to avoid the rush.

It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done.

I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.

So much universe, and so little time.

Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.

Of course I’m sane, when trees start talking to me, I don’t talk back.

You have to have really wide reading habits and pay attention to the news and just everything that’s going on in the world: you need to. If you get this right, then the writing is a piece of cake.

The intelligence of that creature known as a crowd is the square root of the number of people in it.

Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out.

Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.

If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.

I’ve always felt that what I have going for me is not my imagination, because everyone has an imagination. What I have is a relentlessly controlled imagination. What looks like wild invention is actually quite carefully calculated.

What is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile? Cats. Cats are nice.

It is possible to live well with dementia and write best-sellers ‘like wot I do.’

Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.

In all seriousness, people think that it’s the ideas that are important. Well, everyone has ideas, all the time. I tend to write mine down and remember them, but at some point you have to apply the bum to the seat and knock out about sixty five thousand words – that’s how long a novel is.


Image Quote: Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.
Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.


I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later, I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat… colourful. That’s when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up.

Freedom without limits is just a word.

I have to write because if I don’t get something down then after a while I feel it’s going to bang the side of my head off.

Educational’ refers to the process, not the object. Although, come to think of it, some of my teachers could easily have been replaced by a cheeseburger.

Oh dear me, the Booker people don’t like me. I don’t care. I have been given an award for being taken not seriously, and I am very, very pleased about that.

I commend my soul to any God that can find it.

Legal or not, I intend to end my life on the lawn of my house with a glass of brandy in my hand.

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.

Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

The harder I work, the luckier I become.

There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys.

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.

There are some people who hate my guts. But that goes with the territory.

Insanity is catching.

Dickens, as you know, never got round to starting his home page.

Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.

Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.

People don’t alter history any more than birds alter the sky, they just make brief patterns in it.

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.

If you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don’t apply to you.


Image Quote: If you have enough book space, I don’t want to talk to you.
If you have enough book space, I don’t want to talk to you.


Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.

I believe everyone should have a good death. You know, with your grandchildren around you, a bit of sobbing. Because after all, tears are appropriate on a death bed. And you say goodbye to your loved ones, making certain that one of them has been left behind to look after the shop.

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.

The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.

My own books drive themselves. I know roughly where a book is going to end, but essentially the story develops under my fingers. It’s just a matter of joining the dots.

Knowing that you are going to die is, I suspect, the beginning of wisdom.

Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.

Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up.

I think I work much harder on the children’s books. I suppose I enjoy that. I find it interesting that although there are more than 30 books in the Discworld series, it is the four that were written for children which have won the awards. I’ve never been quite certain why this is.

For an author, the nice characters aren’t much fun. What you want are the screwed up characters. You know, the characters that are constantly wondering if what they are doing is the right thing, characters that are not only screwed up but are self-tapping screws. They’re doing it for themselves.

Here’s some advice boy. Don’t put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. Thats why they’re called revolutions.

It cannot be said often enough that science fiction as a genre is incredibly educational – and I’m speaking the written science fiction, not ‘Star Trek.’ Science fiction writers tend to fill their books if they’re clever with little bits of interesting stuff and real stuff.


Image Quote: Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.
Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.


Most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally evil, but by people being fundamentally people.

The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.

The thing is, ‘Discworld’ had been going on for a very long time, and I’ve written children’s books as well. Usually when people have a really big series they franchise it, which I thought is a bit of a no-no, so I thought what I’d do is I’d franchise it to myself.

I think we are waiting for an e-book that even non-techies can be comfortable with. From my point of view, the biggest change is that I don’t have to spend most of the day printing out and packaging a manuscript. I think I almost miss that.

Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove.

The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.

Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.

The only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if it’s just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress.

That on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.

Often I sort of work up and down the manuscript. I sometimes used to go ahead of myself to see what was going to happen next, to make certain it fits what was going to be happening soon.

There are times when phrases such as ‘totally astonished’ just don’t do the job. I am, of course, delighted and honoured and, needless to say, ‘flabbergasted’


Image Quote: The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.
The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.


Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil… prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun.

Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to.

I do take my hat off sometimes because how else is a man to shower?

Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom.

Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness.

I didn’t go to university. Didn’t even finish A-levels. But I have sympathy for those who did.

I mean, I wouldn’t pay more than a couple of quid to see me, and I’m me.

Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.

And what would humans be without love? RARE.

In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.

It’s useful to go out of this world and see it from the perspective of another one.

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

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

Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces.


Image Quote: No one's policing their own minds more than an author. You spend a lot of time in your own head analysing what you think about things, and a philosophy comes.
No one’s policing their own minds more than an author. You spend a lot of time in your own head analysing what you think about things, and a philosophy comes.


Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.

Only time and tears take away grief; that is what they are for.

The enemy isn’t men, or women, it’s bloody stupid people and no-one has the right to be stupid.

I am a great fan of science, but I cannot do a quadratic equation.

This isn’t life in the fact lane, it’s life in the oncoming traffic!

Sooner or later we’re all someone’s dog.

I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.

I have no use for people who have learned the limits of the possible.

If cats looked like frogs we’d realise what nasty, cruel little bastards they are.


Please let us know your favourite quote in the comments, and/or if we have missed any that you feel should have been included.

Writer's Edit

Writer’s Edit is a young online literary magazine created especially for writers and lovers of books. Founded in July 2013, the magazine is home to writing and book-related news, as well as advice and inspiration for emerging authors. Writer's Edit also publishes the anthology Kindling. To find out more, click here.

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