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Empathy deserves justice. Recently we touched on the idea of building empathy for a character. This will, by far, be your most powerful tool for writing. You have to make sure that the reader can connect with the situations that you put your characters through, and the reader must somehow be coerced to pull for your characters within those situations.

Think about it. With empathy, we can make you pull for any character, no matter how sinister he is. The Professional is about guy who wants to protect a little girl, and he just happens to be demolition expert. Well, the writers actually get you to pull for him even though he’s a child molester.

No one wants to admit it, but the dude has a little girl (Natalie Portman, I believe), dancing the Marilyn Monroe dance in some sexy lingerie. Gross, right? Yeah, well the writers have somehow managed to get you to pull for the main.

In Paradise Lost, the writer wants to invoke sympathy for the devil. Now who in his right mind would ever want to do that? In literature, we have that power. But how?

Empathy can be invoked by several means. But regardless, we have to see the main character suffering in some way. He has to have a lousy hand, and he’s just playing the cards that he’s dealt – doing things just to get by.

I’ll write a blurb to make you feel sorry for a zombie.

Feed. That’s all she could think. It blurred her thoughts and her vision. Feed. She stumbled across the field, with each step being more impossible than the last. Her prey, a man twice her age and only a few feet away, screamed as he panicked to escape. Her hands trembled, either from the agony or the hunger. She couldn’t tell. Tears welled up within her, but in death, she could not cry. Her only expression was the visceral grunts and growls that shredded the lining of her throat. This was her fate. Feed.

Zombies are mindless killers. Why would we ever feel sorry for her? It doesn’t make sense. But seeing things from her craving, gives her a personality. And the man, her prey, we don’t know him, so we don’t care about him.

Empathy is your ticket to success. Use it. Thanks for stopping by.

4 thoughts on “EVIL FEELINGS

  1. LightObserver

    Nice and good point,I’ll try to give more thought about creating empathy.
    On another note,isn’t it the same for our day to day lives? How we judge or react to other people is often related to the degree of our empathy and connection to them..

    1. William Stadler Post author

      I agree Light. The more empathy we have, the more of a connection we allow both in fiction and in real life.


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