I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately. It’s been an obvious subject of conversation in the wake of the Orlando massacre and high profile sexual assaults. Violence is often the result of one person’s inability to connect with and appreciate the value and integrity of another person.
In that regard, author Shannon Hale has been very vocal about schools not engaging female authors for speaking engagements and not promoting books with female protagonists on the premise that the author or the book won’t be interesting to boys (while not having the same concerns about male authors and male protagonists being interesting to girls). Hale recently tweeted (and I’m paraphrasing here): When we constantly tell young boys that they don’t have to consider the female point of view, that the female protagonist’s story has nothing to teach them, and even to ridicule those boys who (gasp!) pick up a book about a girl…is it any wonder why there are so many young men who cannot empathize with their female peers?
Obviously developing empathy is an important piece to cultivating a safer and healthier world, but I’m not here to bemoan current events. Instead, let me focus on the importance of developing empathy for the purpose of improving our writing. This is Writer Unboxed, after all.
Why do we, as writers, need to develop a strong ability to empathize? [Read more…]