John Steinbeck on Words and Writing

"I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar–if he is financially fortunate."

--John Steinbeck, East of Eden


  1. So they're lies only if they bring a profit. Makes sense. I've got nothing to worry about.

  2. Ha! If that is the case, then I've nothing to worry about either. Steinbeck, on the other hand, wasn't exactly a starving writer by this point in his career...

    I just thought this was an interesting way of trying to define fiction storytelling. There are many flaws in his logic, but I still find it intriguing to think about.

    That said, I wouldn't mind being a little bit of a "liar," as long as that little bit came with a paycheck.


"Test Tube Baby" by Sam Fuller (1936)

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