John L'Heureux

Literary Birthday – 26 October – John L’Heureux

Happy Birthday, John L’Heureux, born 26 October 1934.


  1. I try to explore the shape of mystery that lies behind the few things I know. (via)
  2. Young writers often confuse dialogue with conversation, under the assumption that the closer you get to reality, the more convincing you sound. But dialogue is not conversation. Dialogue is a construct; it is artificial; it is much more efficient and believable than real conversation. Just as fiction itself distorts reality in order to achieve a larger truth, so dialogue eliminates all the false starts and irrelevant intrusions of real life in order to reveal character and move the encounter toward a dramatic conclusion.
  3. Plot does not simply move with time, but spreads out conceptually in metaphorical space.
  4. You must get beyond divertissement, sketch, anecdote, the interesting moment. You must get to the mystery of human personality. What is the line of the story that leads us to a point where we see or intuit something we haven’t before?
  5. A short story is a writer’s way of thinking through experience… Journalism aims at accuracy, but fiction’s aim is truth. The writer distorts reality in the interest of a larger truth.
  6. Nothing on earth in fiction is less interesting than characters under the influence of alcohol.
  7. Obscenities are too often used for shock value, as a kind of shorthand for real expression of emotion. You’ve got to scale down your monstrosities. A scream is not a discovery.
  8. Using language like jungle growth isn’t the solution to telling a story.
  9. A story is about a single moment in a character’s life when a definitive choice is made, after which nothing is the same.

John L’Heureux is an American writer and professor of English. He was staff editor and contributing editor for The Atlantic and is the author of sixteen books of poetry and fiction. His works of fiction include The Miracle, Having Everything, The Shrine at Altamira, and A Woman Run Mad.

Source for image

Author’s website


Photo by Dagmar Logie

source for quotes

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 26th October 2018