I wrote a whole post about how great writers can make their readers feel the whole range of emotions—then I read it, and it didn't make me feel anything besides boredom. I tightened it up (because editing), and here are the final nuggets:
Lots of writers go to school to learn the mechanics of writing without learning the soul of the art. Many times we miss the point of perfecting the art because we're so focused on the craft. Writing isn't about the mechanics—it's about the art.
A good writer can suppose a feeling, and write correctly about it. A great writer can feel the feeling, and make you feel it too.
Writing about people well is understanding beyond what you've experienced, feeling what you can't imagine, and taking on someone else's pain, joy, or heartache.
To be a good writer, you have to write good. But to be a great writer, you must learn how to understand people and write their feelings into your good writing.
That's chasing humanity and sketching it out.
Ps. I'm reading a fantastic book about writing obituaries right now that's prompted this mumbling jumble of semi-insights.