Empathy In Writing

Empathy In Writing Rachael Mollison-Read

Empathy is a valuable characteristic for anybody, but it is an essential part of a writer’s process. Empathy is the emotion that allows us to view a situation from another’s perspective, and it is something writer’s use every moment that they are creating a story.

Empathy for characters:
This is an obvious and essential aspect of storytelling – a writer needs to have empathy for the characters they are writing. The intricacies and complexities of a character’s backstory, of their motivations is in essential in informing their actions. Writer’s need to have an inherent understanding, and empathy for the characters they create, so that they can convey the story to their readers effectively.

Empathy for villains:
While villains are obviously characters too, they require their own point, because they can be the most difficult characters to empathize with. The best villains, in my opinion, are the ones that have complex motivations. An excellent, (and well-known) example of this, is Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. Voldemort is a villain who has a complex backstory, that explains his motivations, and many of his actions. This helps the readers understand Voldemort, and even empathize with him (to a degree!). Being able to empathize with a villain, doesn’t make that character any less evil, or villainous, but it does make for a more complex and rich story for the reader.

Empathy for readers:
A good writer needs to also empathize with their readers. Knowing how to show, not tell – how to craft and weave a story to have the utmost effect on your readers is essential for a good writer. In order to do that, a writer must empathize with the needs of their readers. This means considering how to best relay their story to their readers, considering clarity above all else.


Do you think empathy is essential to writing? Tell me in the comments below!

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One thought on “Empathy In Writing

  1. […] in the story. You can entwine yourself in their lives, and experiences. This ability allows you to empathize, and to shift your outlook. Understanding things from another perspective is an tremendous asset […]

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