The Power of Empathy

Recently I was sitting with a couple of my girlfriends who asked in subtle terms how I could write on the subject of BDSM? “I mean, you don’t really live that lifestyle, do you?” “No,” I said, honestly.

I believe, in the heart of every fiction writer dwells the power of empathy. We create characters, give them names and identities and place them in crazy situations. As an author, I have to listen carefully to my characters once underway because as they get involved with one another they tell me things about who they are and what they need. Everyone is just trying to make the best of what they have been dealt and if I listen carefully enough I can empathize with their circumstances and share that on the page. When Jane feels…I feel it as well.

I’m not discounting research when necessary but at some point the research has to meld into a palpable situation I can feel so you can feel it too.

Maybe empathy is why I can’t watch violence, torture or gore in movies and TV. I can’t tell you the number of movies where I have had my eyes closed for parts of the film.

Authors write about all sorts of subjects whether or not they have direct experience with them. Fortunately I finally figured out a good use for my vast imagination. At least I hope you all think so. 😉

2 thoughts on “The Power of Empathy

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog. I admit to knowing Blakely personally and I do know how the minds of others work. I am currently writing a time traveler’s tale. Hang on be right back. Well now, that’s settled. Okay so, no you don’t neccesarily work directly from personal experience but it certainly helps in the details of the experience we try to convey. I agree that one of the most imp;ortant elements of writing is to empathize with your characters. Crazy freaks that they can be. Best wishes.

  2. I never quite thought of it that way, but I agree with the empathy angle. When I write characters I try to define their core personality and motivations then always set my mind within those parameters when enacting a response as if projecting them into myself and vice versa. And though I’ve never been a fighter or in the mob, it doesn’t take away from imagining what it’d be like and interpreting an appropriate response. Also, I’m with you on the horror, gore thing. Can’t watch it. But most of all I can’t watch embarrassing situations because I empathize with them the most.

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