12 March 2009

The goal is empathy

Warning: I'm on my soapbox...
Recently, on one of my writers loops there has been some discussion of narration. There seems to be some confusion on the topic. Let's back up a bit...

The goal for authors is: empathy for characters, especially for the protagonist.
Why? Because we want the reader to BECOME the character. The wonder and beauty of written fiction is it is the only medium in which a human being can become someone else. But it can't happen without empathy. Empathy is the identification, understanding and often sharing of, someone else's feelings and/or motives.

Of course, authors have many TOOLS at their disposal to tell their stories and engender empathy. These include description of setting and action, dialogue, and narrative. Narrative is when the author communicates directly with the reader. One could say narrative includes everything that isn't setting description, action, or dialogue.

Please note these tools are used to create fiction and should not be confused with the elements of fiction. Fiction itself has several parts or elements, which include character/characterization, plot, setting, theme (a conceptual distillation of the story), and style (how it is written). The effect created by the author's style is often referred to as voice.

It has been said that the ability to create fiction and other artistic works is a fundamental aspect of human culture and one of the defining characteristics of humanity.
So, why not use all the tools at your disposal to create fiction that engenders empathy and hence insights into the human condition?

Send us your stories!


Anonymous said...

I am reading this article second time today, you have to be more careful with content leakers. If I will fount it again I will send you a link

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)