Empathy in Creating Characters With Michelle Levy + GIVEAWAY

Today I’m excited to have Michelle Levy on the blog today. Michelle is the author of Not After Everything which actually is my current read now and just came out in the beginning of this month!


I love her topic for today as I’m slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) developing this story idea I’ve had for a while and this post about how she creates her characters was really helpful to me and something for me to think about as I develop these characters who have been in my head.  So I hope this will helpful for any of you writers out there or for any readers who just like to know how authors craft characters!




“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . .Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” –Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines empathy (noun em·pa·thy \ˈem-pə-thē\) as: the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else’s feelings: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.

No, this is not a bad best man speech. Bear with me.

Imagine you’re in line at Starbucks behind a father with his young son. The little boy is trying very hard not to cry because a minute ago the dad harshly warned him that if he did cry, he’d give him a real reason for crying and the boy is clearly very afraid of the dad. You wonder how much worse this father must be if he’s not afraid to show this kind of behavior in public. Now imagine how you’d feel if you were the boy. How would you feel as a teenager who still carries this memory around with you? Did that memory make you tougher? Did it make you more detached? Did it make you a coward? Or did you become the bully?

Now imagine you’re the father. What must you have experienced to make you act so cruelly to such a sweet little boy? Was your father the same way? Your mother? Are you just having a bad day and you’re usually the best father in the world? Maybe you just lost your job. Maybe you’re hung over. And so on.

Guess what? You just created two characters! I know, right?

This is the process I use to create my characters; how I discover why they are the way they are. Empathy is everything! I’ll step into each character’s skin and figure out: What’s happened to me before this point in the story? How did it make me who I am today? Am I drastically different than I was years ago? Weeks ago? What caused the change?

I think creating a character is the best part of writing because I get to become someone else for a little while. Kind of like an actor. And, hey, method actors are master empathizers. They may be a little over-the-top-scary about it, but it really does help to create a fully formed, three-dimensional character. This is why when people ask how I managed to write from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old boy in Not After Everything when I am clearly not a seventeen-year-old boy, I usually tell them I’m a method writer. I was that seventeen-year-old boy when I wrote it.




I’m so excited to have a copy of  Michelle’s book Not After Everything to giveaway courtesy of Penguin!

Not After Everything Michelle Levy

You must be 13 year old to enter.
Winner will be contacted via email and has 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I really liked this post! This is great advice, and I love the “method writer” strategy. My goal is to one day write a book, so this is definitely helpful 🙂

  2. This is such a fun post! I’m also ~slowly slowly~ trying to make my idea into actual words on page and it’s so much harder than I thought it would be!

  3. I love when I can empathize with the characters in books. It makes them much more likeable and understandable in my opinion. 🙂 Lovely post, Michelle!

  4. I know what you mean. Every time I make a good characters, it’s because I stepped inside their head enough to see what they see, imagine what they would think, and experience the world as they would. Every time I make an uninteresting character, it’s because I was too rushed, or distracted, or lazy, or forgetful to do this important step. Then usually someone yells at me, and I try again.

  5. Sydney anderson says:

    Love this post thanks for the chance

  6. Thanks for the heads up on this great book!

  7. Thanks so much for the giveaway! I’ve seen this book around on so many blogs and I’d love to read it!


  1. […] Lucky (and final) Stop #13: I wrote a guest post for Perpetual Page Turner about how I use empathy to create characters. […]

  2. […] Michelle Levy on empathy in creating characters. […]