Pratchett: Cookery

“If you want to write it, you’ve probably read a lot of it—in which case, stop (see below). If you haven’t read any, go and read lots. Genres are harsh on those who don’t know the history, don’t know the rules. Once you know them, you’ll know where they can be broken. Genres are also—fantasy perhaps most of all—a big bulging pantry of plots, conceits, races, character types, myths, devices, and directions, most of them hallowed by history. You’re allowed to borrow, as many will have done before you; if this were not the case there would only ever have been one book about a time machine. To stay with the cookery metaphor, they’re all just ingredients. What matters is how you bake the cake; every decent author should have their own recipe, and the best find new things to add to the mix.”

– Terry Pratchett, A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction (p. 80)

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