Kipling’s Six Honest Men – 5Ws and 1H

KiplingOne of the simpler (and more useful tools) I discuss in my book Opening the Creativity Diamond, is 5Ws and 1H. I thought I’d post about them in particular as I want to discuss how to use the tool for scene creation when outlining. The rule of blog posts is keep to the point, so there will be two separate posts; this is the quick what is this tool article.

First stop, Rudyard Kipling…

Six Honest Men

When I train people on creative problem solving, I find it best to start with simple tools. One of the very simplest is summed up in a poem by Rudyard Kipling (pictured):

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

The idea is simple, there are six fundamental questions and if you know then you know everything! In problem solving the What might be the problem, the Where, When, Who and How let you explore the facts and Why is the root cause. Once you have all that you can start working up an effective solution!

A quick aside: this is not connected to the Socratic critical thinking process, though the latter is also relevant as a technique. I did mention 5Ws and 1H in a much earlier post on Persons Objects Locations Events (Get your writing in POLE position). I still like POLE for its specific mention of Objects but for future reference in scene design I shall be using 5Ws and 1H.


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