Saturday, 26 June 2010

Terry Pratchett and steered serendipitus

I have just been at the Winchester Writers' Conference (which is still going on) as I was standing in for another lecturer and doing a session which was thoroughly enjoyable. Before my session I had the joy of watching the plenary speeches where the delightful Barbara Large (founder and organiser) celebrated the conference's 30th birthday.

And then...Terry Pratchett stood up and spoke, giving the most wonderful and amusing speech and I would like to share three things that I took from his speech with you.

1. He suggests, as do we all to our students, read, read and read again. But what really surprised me was that some of the books he read were ancient, second hand and non-fiction. (the history of false teeth or Stories of Famous Financiers). He suggested that you would be surprised what nuggets of information you can get from these books, which then can later appear in your fiction - possibly helping you to paint pictures with words.

2. He also went on to inform all these aspiring writers and writers who were all hanging off every single word of his, that he doesn't plot. The way he works is steered serendipity. He likes to see where the story takes him. Something I think I may try.

Barbara Large then went on to announc several writers who were now published thanks to the connections they had made at the Writers' Conference. Terry Pratchett got up once again and...

3. finally he told a story or two about people who he knew and had agreed to read their work. He thought it was quite good so sent it to his agent who agreed in both instances they were quite good and was interested in them if they would make ceratin changes. When told this the two authors both turned round and said 'Oh I don't think so!' At which point the whole auditorium gasps at the thought of wasted opportunities. The nugget of information that Terry Pratchett then shared with us is something I will remember for ever....'grab every opoortunity by the foreskin...'

How can we resist!

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