Chapters in Discworld Books

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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:28 pm

poohbcarrot wrote:
Pratchett is quoted as saying that he "just never got into the habit of chapters", later adding that "I have to shove them in the putative YA books because my editor screams until I do".


So self-admission he succumbs to editorial pressure. It is reasonable to assume it isn't UK editorial pressure.

Is it at all possible his US editors scream at him until he puts chapters in the adult books?
It's possible - but I don't see why you think it's US editorial pressure and dismiss the UK editors.

It's just as likely that Terry is putting chapters in the last two adult books because he made the decision to himself.

Do they really detract from your enjoyment of the books? Like I say - I just ignore them unless I'm looking for a particular passage and then I find them useful. :)
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Postby poohbcarrot » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:45 pm

I seem to recall (though I could be wrong) J K Rowling's UK editors said no kid would read a massively long book but she stuck to her guns and refused to compromise. The rest is history.

I'm sure that as the UK's second biggest living seller, that TP can demand anything he wants from his UK publishers and get it. However in the US he might not even be in the top 100 sellers, so to get published and promoted he might have to compromise a bit.

If TP was as popular in the US as in England, don't you think there would have been at least one Hollywood film made of one of his books?
Don't you think there would have already been Discworld conventions in the US?

His popularity is rapidly growing in the States. If by adding chapters and teasers he can sell more books in the US, why not do it? His UK fans will buy his books regardless.
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:55 pm

Still don't follow your reasoning - the style he is copying by doing those things at the start of chapters isn't an American thing - Swift, Jerome, Milne and Verne are certainly not American writers. It seems less likely to me that Americans would be familiar with that style of chapter heading and therefore might wonder what the hell is going on.

As to Hollywood - there have been several attempts to buy the rights to the books by Hollywood. Terry either won't sell to them because they plan to change the stories too much, or they have been sold but nothing has happened yet. This is the case with several of the books.

The first North American Discworld convention is being held in September. But Discworld has been very much a part of Worldcon, the convention for the World Science Fiction Society for many years. One of the biggest problems with getting a Discworld Con together in the past (and it has been tried) is the sheer size of the US and trying to find somewhere that's acceptable to everyone.

I really don't know why you are associating these chapter headings with America. :?
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:57 pm

Yeah but... :lol:

If Terry's held out for so long without chapters in the US market why start now all of a sudden when he's at the top of his game and his fame?

The teasers could be his way of sending them up for 'making' him put chapters in there maybe, or he's just bored not doing it, or felt like a change or, and I hate to say it again, it could just be he's feeling the effects of his illness and splitting it into distinct sections to help him flag what's gone before and the publisher's think it's a fun thing to include?

He's experimenting a lot of the time throughout his career as Tony points out so perhaps this is just trying other things out or playing around with the format a little in a place where it's not at all crucial to the style his fans like best?

If you don't like it, don't look at it - the actual writing's still as good :)
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:06 pm

It's interesting that he's done it with the two Moist books and they have a sort of Dickensian feel - maybe a bit more than some of the earlier books. This is a very old style and somewhat in fitting with the feel of the books. So maybe we'll see them on the Moist books and then no more. :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:12 pm

Just a thought - isn't Moist a little like a sort of skewed Discworld version of Phileas Fogg from Vernes' Around the World in 80 Days?

In that case the chapter headings would certainly fit into that sort of story. I do get that sort of feel with the Moist books. :D
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Postby poohbcarrot » Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:21 pm

Nation had chapters, but not teasers.
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:23 pm

Wonder what he'll do with Unseen Academicals - maybe that will prove it one way or the other. :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:44 pm

I've moved this thread from the Broken Drum Forum as I think it's a more suitable place for it. It's a subject that I'm sure people will want to return to again and again and it will be easier to find it there.

Tony. :D
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Postby poohbcarrot » Sun Jul 12, 2009 4:55 am

I took a leaf out of Batty's book and contacted the Oracle;

"They're more than just chapters. I suspect because he thought them appropriate for the story's shape - and he's taken a liking for the old Victorian style of describing the contents - though in his case in rather more cryptic form, which he enjoys. Does that satisfy??"

Colin Smythe

That explains the Moist books (but not Nation).
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Postby swreader » Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:55 am

poohbcarrot wrote:I took a leaf out of Batty's book and contacted the Oracle;

"They're more than just chapters. I suspect because he thought them appropriate for the story's shape - and he's taken a liking for the old Victorian style of describing the contents - though in his case in rather more cryptic form, which he enjoys. Does that satisfy??"

Colin Smythe

That explains the Moist books (but not Nation).


Well, of course. Pratchett continually experiments with styles, words, formatting and whatever he thinks works (or he enjoys just for the fun of it). As for Nation, of course it has chapters. It's both a young adult and a non-discworld novel. Incidentally, it has been named an Honor books for the Matthew Prinz Award this year--the American equivalent of the Carnegie award.

I must, however, take exception to your suggestion that Terry is at the mercy of his American publishers, by which I assume you mean Harper. Terry has had fans from the beginning in the US, and has sold more and more books (moving to larger publishers). But he has mob scene signings for all his US book tours, was the Guest of Honor at the 2004 Worldcon. There are chapters in the British editions of the children's books, just as in the American ones. And perhaps the reason that Pratchett's rise to fame in the US was slightly slower than in the UK (and the rest of the world) lies in the fact that he is an English writer, and by and large writes about the foibles and humorous aspects of life as he sees it around him--which explains why some of his puns (for example) have to be explain to non-Brits.
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Postby MattK » Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:24 am

I'm coming into this discussion way too late, and I don't really have anything of substance to add. But am I the only one who reads those chapter teasers in an old-timey radio voice? That sort of charismatic tone seems to fit with the character of Moist pretty well. It always reminded me of the "coming up after the break..." teasers from that era.
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Postby Trish » Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:06 pm

Tonyblack wrote:It's interesting that he's done it with the two Moist books. This is a very old style and somewhat in fitting with the feel of the books. So maybe we'll see them on the Moist books and then no more. :D


Perhaps it has more to do with the main character than UK /US editors.

Moist's life, then & now, is divided into chapters.
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:13 pm

Tonyblack wrote:As to Hollywood - there have been several attempts to buy the rights to the books by Hollywood. Terry either won't sell to them because they plan to change the stories too much, or they have been sold but nothing has happened yet. This is the case with several of the books.


Hollywood is a whore and nothing good can come from letting them get at his books. They will NOT be the same and the F word will be in every other sentence.

Hooray for Sir Terry and 'is convictions!!!!!!!! :Applause please: :Bows: :twisted:
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby Batty » Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:00 pm

Hollywodd keeps changing the ending of films - even those that are based on fact.
The enigma machine was captured by the British before America entered the war, for example, 'Titanic' was a betrayal of the memory of the crew as they did not pull a revolver on the passengers and try to save themselves, and Hollywood even wanted to make a film of The Battle of Hastings and asked if they could change the ending - as the wrong guy won!

I even remember a documentary on TV with Terry who recountered that Hollywood were talking about making a film of 'Mort', but asked if he could lose the Death character, as the Mid-West weren't ready for Death as an individual entity!
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