Ellie, the main character in my novel Bliss Lake, is like me in a lot of ways. Part of her personality, like mine, is a self-conscious awkwardness. She can be so painfully aware of herself and a moment she's in, especially when she's face-to-face with someone, that she trips up. She'll say something that comes out wrong, even when she means well, or it just won't make sense at all. And it completely embarrasses her.
But there are also instances when Ellie is cool and smooth. She knows just what to say at the right time, when her interactions with people are fluid and warm.
We all know people who are this way; people who are completely at ease with themselves, who don't have to figure out what they're going to say, to get it just right. But even when Ellie comes off like this type of person, I've typically struggled over her dialogue. I've pounded her words out until the phrasing and connotation are just right, so that they appear effortless and focused paper.
Real life, real conversation, isn't that way for me. I can't edit as I go. I have only so few seconds to think on my feet, and can become easily flustered. It's mortifying. But the process of creating Ellie's character and writing her tendencies has helped me with my own. I've learned how to better think on the fly, to intuit what needs to be said and how. It's like I've somehow absorbed that part of Ellie's calm, as if by some writer's osmosis.
And that means Ellie has taught me something. I think that's pretty cool.
Have you ever learned something - or picked up a habit, perspective, etc., - from a character you've written? What was it?