Put On a Hat

The Six Hat Gang

Writing from the point of view of another personality can sometimes be taxing. Here is a technique taken from the wonderful world of training and human resources, significantly amended for literary artists:

Six Hats is a way of putting your mind into another mode. When a character in your story needs to be shown to think in a certain way, put on a Hat from below, as appropriate.

White hat – Facts & Information

These people make statements of fact, and are able to discern information from scant evidence, presenting the views of others in a factual manner.  Yes, they are boring personalities. In plot lines, these characters act as the neutral “announcer”, and can present details about your plot or other characters along with the background to events.  Where background info or character traits could take too many pages, a white hat person can be useful.  Absences of information can also be brought to the reader’s attention.

Red hat – Feelings & Emotions

Their feelings are in your face. They tell you their gut instincts.  In many cases these characters are foils against which ideas can be tested, and can be contrasted against other, more stable, characters.  While central characters may not be Red Hats all the time, they may express this side of their nature periodically.

This hat can be used to emphasize an empathetic response to a situation of other character.

Grey hat – Being Cautious

 These characters regularly identify barriers, hazards, risks and other negative connotations.  While some people may find his hat is natural to use, the issues with it are that some will tend to use it when it is not requested and when it is not appropriate, thus stopping the action of others.  Another issue is that some people will naturally start to look for the solutions to raised problems —they start practicing green on grey thinking before it is requested.

Yellow hat – Being Positive and Optimistic

These characters identify the positive aspects associated with any situation. This is the opposite of grey hat thinking. A Yellow hat looks for the reasons in favour of something.  They will look to justify statements in favour of the idea or other person.  Called the idea of “undecided positive”  -whereas the grey hat would be skeptical – “undecided negative”.
They may use statements regarding the benefits that exist, or positive statements about the likelihood of achieving the benefits, or identifying the key supports available that will benefit this course of action.

Green hat – New Ideas

This is the hat of thinking new thoughts.  These characters bounce from one idea to another like butterflies in a field of flowers.  They exist to identify new possibilities, some of which may be reasonable. Things are said for the sake of seeing what they might mean,rather than to form a judgment.  Because green hat thinking covers the full spectrum of creativity, it can take many forms.

Blue hat – The Big Picture

This is the hat used by experienced people who assess all the possibilities and then set a course of action.  The blue hat organizes things.  What have we done so far?  What can we do next?  Who should be asked to do it? Which consequences need to be considered?


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