“Imagination applied to the human condition is empathy. Good fiction is difficult without it, great fiction impossible. It’s a talent that’s in short supply today, when the ironic take on life, cynicism, scorn, is everywhere triumphant. Many writers have trouble finding empathy for characters who are poorer, less intelligent, less successful than they are; others have trouble finding empathy for characters who are smarter, richer, happier.
It’s why the great Russian writers are still worth reading — Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoyevsky. We get the sense that there wasn’t a human being ever born who they couldn’t identify with and sympathize with and characterize from the inside out, in prose so direct and simple the words disappear.
So, verbal facility, world-class imagination, all-embracing empathy; those are the big three of writing talent. There is a fourth without which the first three mean nothing […] All these qualities — at least if a writer has a deeper purpose than merely putting words down on paper — count for nothing unless they are motivated by the fourth and perhaps rarest of the great talents: longing. You have to want to write perfectly and you have to want this more than anything.
From, and more: vnews.com/On-Prose-There-isn-t-much-writing-about-writing-talent-15741133