It's said that you can learn a lot by looking through a person's pockets. Well, that had better be the case, because that's Kathy Stinson's writing assignment this week: reveal what you can about a character through the things he or she carries.
Any writers out there want to try this with your characters? Perhaps you could post it on your blog. That way I can start my own meme.
In the backpack of Rosemary Watson, age 14:
- Books, obviously. Nylon backpack, bought by her parents in the week before her starting high school, is only ever used to lug materials to and from schools. She has a battered campers pack where she puts the things one might need to hike in the woods: insect repellant, a bottle of water, an emergency stash of M&Ms candy (with peanuts)
- The books in her school pack are as follows: carefully maintained chemistry, physics, biology and math textbooks. There's a rumour going about school that she shines them during her spare time.
- Considerably less-well maintained English novels and French textbooks. Several pages have been jammed and folded, the result of being tossed into the bag as an afterthought.
- A pencil case containing a compass, a plastic ruler, stencils to draw circles, a Texas Instruments T-1000 calculator, with graphing capability, and a pencil.
- Her lunch (an apple, a carton of milk, and leftovers from last night's dinner. Mr. Watson is a good cook, but sometimes he does get a little ambitious. Thus lunch is usually accompanied with a hastily-made peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.
In the backpack of Peter McAllister, age 14:
- Peter's backpack is made of nylon and huge. It has four separate pockets, zippers up the wazoo, and two or three hidden pouches for emergency stashes (Peter hasn't found them all, yet). It is a top of the line model purchased by his uncle and left for him when he came down from his bedroom, the morning of his fourteenth birthday. It shows signs of being dragged through gravel and kicked a lot.
- Peter's backpack also contains books, well worn and well read.
- Peter's lunchbag: the reusable nylon model. Hasn't been washed in a while.
- Microwaveable lunches (usually beef macaroni), tetra-pack juice and a chocolate bar.
- A wooden pencil case containing a half dozen ballpoint pens (three black, two blue and one red) plus a mechanical pencil and a small container of leads for it.
- An expensive calculator (Texas Instruments, again, with a graphing feature that Peter has yet to use constructively)
- A day planner containing assignment due dates, shopping lists, and uncle's itinerary.
- Also a postcard from his uncle, from Hong Kong, wishing Peter a happy birthday.
What do your characters carry about their person?