Being thoughtful: la gentillesse, la prévenance, ou l’humeur pensive…

I’m a “thinker” by nature, which works pretty well as an author. But in life, it sometimes presents a challenge.

In English, the word “thoughtful” has different meanings, and in French, there are different words for them. Simply put, la gentillesse veut dire (means) “kindness,” la prévenance veut dire “consideration,” et l’humeur pensive veut dire “pensiveness.”

I strive to practice the first two. After all, being unkind or inconsiderate isn’t very nice. But the last one applies to me as well, and sometimes my tendency to ponder, reflect and ruminate overshadows everything. That’s when I have to be careful to channel my thoughts in the direction of writing (primarily) fiction, since it involves lots of thinking.


Me, as an exchange student in France. Was I thinking about how I would one day write a novel based on my experience? Qui sait? (Who knows?)

Reflection can lead to empathy, and I’m naturally empathetic, a plus when it comes to creating a character and getting inside his or her head. Imagining what my characters are feeling helps me to know what they should say, what they should do and how they should do it. It’s kind of like being in the creativity “zone.”

However, in real life, (over)thinking can be problematic and even painful – or at least, stressful. I do my best to prevent that, but when it comes down to it, my nature is what it is. Que faire?

Write. That’s what to do.

Because life is full of fodder for novels like the one I wrote, MAKE THAT DEUX (and the one I’m working on now) – and if I don’t think about that, I won’t be able to use it. So really, being a “thinker” is not too bad a thing, and quite useful.

Back to la gentillesse and la prévenance: both are also very useful – and necessary – in life, but not so much in writing a tension-filled story. But creating conflict in fiction doesn’t have to include the opposite of these.

Except for when I’m showing the reader le méchant (the villain)*…

* A major character in my Work-in-Progress.

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