Writing Empathy as a Power or Ability

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Mary L. Schmidt asked a few months ago about writing a post about empathy or intuitiveness towards emotions.  Now, I’ve thought a lot about this and I think this is something we should look at for every character.  Sure, you have those who possess the power to manipulate emotions and those who can read them from a distance, but those can also be considered telepathy.  Empathy falls into an odd category if you make it a power, so let’s take a look at it.

Why is empathy a tough and strange one to use as a power?  One reason is because it is very ‘narrow’ in scope with it connecting to emotions.  Not thoughts, but the feelings behind that.  Many authors make a mistake in having characters read thoughts along with emotions and still calling them empaths.  As soon as they get words instead of feelings, you…

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