A Tip of the Hat

Me and my pal Magic goofing around with hats at the costume shop at the University of Colorado many years ago.

Me and my pal Magic goofing around at the costume shop at the University of Colorado many years ago.

May 28, 2014  Prompt #28

Bonnets, boaters, and bowlers. Berets and beanies. Sombreros. Stetson’s. Stovepipes. Fedoras. Fezzes. Fisherman’s caps. Coal miner helmets. Army helmets. Bike helmets.

Yes, today’s prompt is all about hats.  With their long and rich history, writing about hats can enrich characterization, provoke memories, and, again, ground your writing with specific, sensory details. Hat’s off and let’s go!


  1. Choose a hat–yours or someone else’s–for this exercise. While it is best to have a physical hat to hold and feel, you can, alternately, look at headgear on Wikipedia or check out The Hat Blog for inspiration.
  2. Have your hat? For five minutes, write a physical and factual description of  its style, color, and condition. Write briefly about where, when and how you acquired it. If you are looking of a photo of the hat, you can imagine its history .
  3. Next, write the psychological and emotional history of the hat. Do you put it on for practical or stylish reasons? How do you feel wearing it? Do you associate the hat with a person, place, or stage of your life?  Tell your story.

Further Writing

  • Write a poem about your hat. Capture a small slice of time or a specific emotion associated with the hat. Include two or more of these words: mirror, door, sun, eyes, breeze, sturdy, light, other, tilt.
  • Write about trying on the hat of someone who has died.
  • Write about someone who is incomplete without their hat. Tell us how it transforms them.

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. Each member brings one or two hats to writing group. Take turns trying them on and snapping photos of each other with a digital camera. Choose one of the photos as your springboard and write from there.
  2. You are walking on a beach, on a city sidewalk, or in an open meadow. A stiff wind blows a hat your way and it lands two feet in front of you.  What do you do (0r what does your character do?)? Include sensory details, such as texture, temperature, and sounds.

What did you think of this writing prompt? Share your thoughts.

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