Reading and empathy

The Guardian has an article about how some forms of fiction teach empathy for others: … athy-study


Much of what they were researching hinges on a difference they see between writerly and readerly fiction:

The Science article they published is here: … 410da39519

What do you think? Would you classify your writing as writerly, requiring readers to participate, or readerly, dictating a reader’s total experience.

I also wonder what my latest book is. It certainly deals very heavily with empathy, but does it force readers to understand what’s happening to these kids for themselves? I’ll have to think about that.

–Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer

Seems like genre fiction is “readerly,” as you say, and literary fiction (a genre in itself, I know, with its own conventions, however much looser) more “writerly.”

I’m going to write genre stuff under pseudonyms but literary fare under my legal name. I read both kinds of fiction, though lately I’ve been doing all genre. The best authors in either know how to satisfy reader expectations – for genre, it’s just enough characterization and other non-plot elements without sacrificing plot and pacing; for literary, it’s not getting off on navel-gazing tangents/complaints-about-life and/or too esoteric a writing style as to alienate readers (though for some, like those who love Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, puzzle-like challenges are precisely the point of such reading).