1 min read


I'm repeatedly amazed what Terry Pratchett can do – and do again, and again – with a short sentence or two of description. Another quote from Guards! Guards!:

"You had your holidays this year, Sergeant?" said Captain Vimes eventually, rocking back and forth on his heels.

"Yessir, sent the wife to Quirm last month, sir, to see her aunt."

"Very nice at this time of year, I'm told."


"All the geraniums and whatnot."

A figure tumbled out of an upper window and crumpled on the cobbles.

"That's where they've got the floral sundial, isn't it?" the captain said desperately.

"Yessir. Very nice, sir. All done with little flowers, sir."

There was a sound like something hitting something else repeatedly with something heavy and wooden. Vimes winced.

"I don't think he'd of been happy in the Watch, sir," said the Sergeant in a kindly voice.

Context: The Night Watch – Captain Vimes, Sergeant Colon, and Corporal "Nobby" Nobs – are waiting outside the Mended Drum while their new hire/colleague Corporal Carrot is laying down the law in the lawless bar. They've elected to wait until things settle before seeing if he needs any help. (I think Carrot is the "he" that Sergeant Colon is talking about here.) It's a fun scene.

The description-dialog pairing here is on point. They contrast wildly, brutal violence and polite smalltalk, and it works excellently. There's just enough description to get the idea across.

Also, I have to appreciate how Terry used 'something' three times in the same sentence and it still worked.