Use De Bono's Six Thinking Hats to create a rounded character, and more.
Edward De Bono's concept of 'Six Thinking Hats' can help me build rounded characters. The basic idea is that I don a virtual hat of one of six colours and that directs my thinking train. I'll just briefly run the six hats and their colours by you.
White Hat: Data
When I'm wearing the white hat I think about data, facts and figures, the basic building blocks of physical description.
Red Hat: Emotion
Wearing the red hat directs my thinking to deal with the emotions and feelings of the character and those that the character engenders in others.
Green Hat: Creativity
Wearing this hat allows me to follow strange pathways, it gives me permission to create those unique attributes that make someone memorable.
Black Hat: Negatives
A useful hat, it leads me to think about the less pleasant aspects of a character, no one is wholly good, or wholly bad (so we are told). A hero needs a dark side, unpleasant habits or moments of less than saint-hood.
Yellow Hat: Positives
This is the opposite to the black hat, it is the sunny side of a character, the nice parts, the attributes that make a person likeable.
Blue Hat: Thinking about thinking
This is the hat that ties it all together. It's about structure, how the attributes slot together to create a character that is more than the sum of the parts. The big picture.
An Example: Bob
Just to show you how I create somebody, I'm going to take you through my thoughts about a hero, Bob.
Bob is 9 years old, he is skinny, 4ft 2ins tall and has red hair and freckles. He writes left-handed and has one foot longer than the other. He wears either his school uniform or jeans, trainers (sneakers to our US cousins) and a stripy tee-shirt.
He loves fish and chips and pizza. His best friend is his dog, Woof, and the two are inseparable. His is frightened of water, spiders and the school bully, Fred. He is envious of his neighbour's new bike but won't ask for one for himself because he knows that his family is short of money. He is worried that his dad won't get another job and mum will have to take in another lodger. He hated the last one. He is unaware that Jenny has a crush on him.
One day he discovers that his right hand has started to glow in the dark.
He can make jokes about people which are hurtful. He can be very lazy. He can be very shy. When he finds out that Jenny is soppy about him, he avoids her and makes a nasty comment about her.
He can tell very funny jokes. He is basically kind and will lend a hand if asked. He often makes his dad a cup of tea to cheer him up. Eventually he apologises to Jenny and stands up to Fred.
Bob's reaction to his glowing hand is, at first, one of horrified terror but then he begins to find that there is more to it than first meets the eye.
He tries to hide it but Fred finds out and begins to tease him. Then Woof goes missing. He has to overcome his fears to make it all come right at the end, with Jenny's help.
Just by thinking about Bob in terms of the six hats, I came up with a little background of him family, Woof, Fred and Jenny. The interactions and the idea of a glowing hand led to an outline plot. And no, I haven't written it. Yet. If you want to - go ahead!
Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management. De Bono, Edward. Little, Brown and Company. . ISBN 0316178314 (paperback), 0316177911 (hardback).