A friend said to me today that she thought you needed empathy to be a good fiction-writer, because you need to get into your characters and feel what they feel, and if you're, say, a narcissist or very analytical and low on empathy, you probably can't feel for them
Of course, being a good fuzzy liberal, I agree, but I want to toss that out for consideration. What do you all think? Do you have to be able to "feel with your characters" to create good characters?
Are there alternatives? Like if you are basing a character on yourself or someone else, maybe you don't need empathy so much as an ability to deeply observe?
Also, there are really analytical people who can, I think, create characters without feeling them. I think Flaubert (Madame Bovary) might be one, not sure. They're more like psychologists in that way. They analyze the situation and this character and what the traits might cause to happen, and how that might affect how the character behaves.
So... your thoughts? Do we need empathy to create characters? Or can we do that well if we're instead quite analytical? Is it likely that any of us are both?