The Empathy Problem

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
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The Empathy Problem

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:43 am

So, I was doing my morning reading on my lunch break at work and came across a lovely little Cracked article that triggered something tangentially related in my brain. ... tragedies/

If you don't want to read the article, the long and short of it is that the human brain is wired to respond to a single individual in need differently than a large group of people in need. People have a far more emotional reaction when there is a single person they can identify with, whereas processing larger-scale tragedies is done in a more logical manner.

This applies in fiction, too. I was, for example, far more moved by "Logan" than I was by "X-Men: Apocalypse". (I know, I know, not the classiest example, but my husband and I enjoy our comic book film adaptations.) So, remember, folks: if you're writing about a large-scale tragedy and you want the readers to care, it's probably wise to make sure it has a personal effect on your protagonist, since they're the character the reader will know best. wotf007
Last edited by disgruntledpeony on Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Empathy Problem

Postby RSchibler » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:12 am

Great post. I often think back to Acquisition, the winner of the Golden Pen award from last year. There were two characters, three I suppose, and no "life threatening" peril, not really, for the MC but it is one of the more intense stories I've ever read. I think the reason why is because you're concerned the whole time about the MC, the secondary character, and what's going to happen next. It's got such a tight focus. In fact, now that I think of it, all the winners were about one person in a situation, that I can think of off the top of my head. Even Squalor & Sympathy, the previous winner, although it had a bigger cast of characters was really focused on one character and her interaction with a situation.
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