Let's Talk with Diane A.S. Stuckart

In the Bag

March 2, 2023

I was searching online for an interesting blog subject for this month when I stumbled across the following topic prompt: What’s in your bag? The question was meant for the person writing the blog post to answer, but as a writer, I think this query would be a simple but brilliant way to get to know my characters. Because what we (fictional character or real person) carry with us on a daily basis reflects what we find important or what we think we need to get through life.

Most of us bag-carriers tote phones and keys and wallets, maybe makeup or brushes and combs or even a laptop. But what about the person who always keeps a candy bar stashed in their bag? Diabetic, or simply a chocoholic? Or the person who keeps actual photos instead of pulling out their phone to display pictures of their loved ones? Deliberately old school, or perhaps a tad superstitious?

We all joke about the infamous “mom” purse the size of a suitcase that holds everything from snacks to wet wipes to board games. And remember how everyone always speculated about what the late Queen Elizabeth II carried in her ever-present pocketbook? (For the record, according to the royal biographer it was a mirror, lipstick, mint lozenges and reading glasses.) Bottom line, what’s in your bag is you!

For a writer, asking the bag question of your characters not only can help you get to know them, it’s also an excellent means of crafting a fully rounded character from the ground up. Open your blank canvas of a character’s bag (or purse/reticule/rucksack, depending on the time setting) and decide that he or she carries a knife or a gun.

You’re on the road to creating a baddie…or else an uber-ly prepared good guy/gal. Add a pair of gloves, and he might be a cat burglar. Unless the gloves are silk and go past her elbows, in which case she might be a Regency-era miss of some standing. Fill that bag until your character is fully fleshed out and start writing. And when you are stuck wondering what that character would do in a particular fictional situation, you can simply open their bag again for inspiration.

So, what do you (or your favorite fictional character) carry in your (or their) bag that tells people something about you (or them)?

While you’re here, visit our March contest page. One winner may select a book from the titles pictured. The contest runs from March 1-18. CLICK HERE.

Want to know more about author Diane A.S. Stuckart? Visit her website.

Posted in Let's Talk, with Diane A.S. Stuckart • Tags: , , |  17 Comments


17 thoughts on “In the Bag

  1. My hairstylist sleuth carries a small can of hair spray, a comb, and set of lock picks given to her as a gift. I think she might have a small Swiss army knife in there, too. And definitely makeup.

  2. I carry all the typical things in my purse; cosmetics, feminine products, glasses ( two prescription and one sunglasses- “got to change my look if needed.”😂), a wallet that also serves as a mini purse, perfect for going to concerts, cosmetic bag that includes a variety of lipgloss, lipsticks, hand lotion, hand sanitizer and a pair of nail clippers( never know when that pesky “hang” nail will irritate you.), a checkbook, pens, pencils, a couple actual photos, a sewing kit, medication, occasionally gum, candy and cough drops.
    My phone gets thrown in and if I’m going on a trip or an appointment, a book or two are included.
    The oddest thing is a flat money holder/ billfold thing I have that contains all the funeral mass cards, in order by year, of family members and friends. While some may think it’s creepy to carry them, I think it’s a spiritual thing. Loved ones keeping watch.
    Hmm this could make a good element in s cozy mystery!

  3. My sleuth, Andi Anna, carries her cell (of course), a brush because her hair is unruly in almost any S. Florida weather condition, a tin of Tic Tacs, a tube of tinted facial moisturizer/sunscreen to help block the sun and cover up her many freckles, and a used cocktail napkin from the last time she and her handsome boyfriend, Manuel Gonzales, were together before his return to Cancun.

  4. My mother-in-law carries one of those giant bags. Oddly enough, I can’t ever recall her whipping out some sort of handydandy tool in any kind of desperate situation. Hmmm…makes me wonder just exactly what she does have in there.

  5. I have a small backpack as my purse, and I try not to carry a lot in it – you will find a brush (for my bad hair day), my wallet often time heavy with coins, keys, pen, tissue packet, coupons that I use, hand sanitizer – so what can you tell about me?

    1. Emily, now I feel like I’m reading Tarot cards. 🙂 Backpack = convenience is king (queen!) and it’s important for you to have your hands free so you feel unencumbered. You’re not too concerned with fashion. What you’ve got in there…the bare basics, along with cash to buy anything you might need, meaning you’re practical and not high maintenance. 🙂

  6. I doubt you’d find much about me by searching my purse. I usually carry my phone in one pocket and my keys and lip balm in another. Other than my wallet, some tissues, and a small tin with Motrin and sinus meds, the only interesting item in my purse is a few postcards of my books in case someone asks me what I do. This doesn’t happen very often, though. 🙁

    1. Lois, you’re also the practical and unencumbered type. 🙂 I quit carrying bookmarks or postcards in my purse because they always got wrinkled but I do carry biz cards that have my website info and a listing of my various series that I give out as often as makes sense.

  7. I wear a medium to large size purse in the crossbody position. My essentials are: phone, wallet, keys, tissues, hand sanitizer, a tiny notebook with ink pen, my disaster bag, and glasses. Inside the disaster bag are my disaster items: Excedrin, stevia packets, cough drops, motion sickness pills, and Imodium.

    My sleuth carries a small shoulder bag. Included are chapstick, sunglasses, wallet, keys, extra ponytail holders, and peppermint essential oil for headaches. She always carries her phone in a pocket.

    1. Maggie — your sleuth has the essentials but you sound prepared for everything, just like a coworker of mine. Yesterday my bad knee was flaring so she offered me some Tylenol. She dug it out of a backpack that also held Pepto, burn spray, itching cream, hand cream, Dramamine, hand sanitizer, wipes for the, ahem, lady parts, Tums, regular Wet Ones, and a couple of bottles of prescription meds, along with bandanas and some sort of notebook. I was dying laughing as she pulled all this out because I was thinking about my post. 🙂 But obviously she’d found a need for all these things in the past!

  8. I carry gift cards, a wallet, hair brush, mints, masks, hand lotion, Tylenol. Thank you for sharing.

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