Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

About Writing Plus

What Does Your Fiction Character Throw Away?

dossier character outline profileMany writers like to create character dossiers and explore several ways to write them. I don’t use profiles in any form, but I understand how they can be helpful. One of the questions I’ve found to be interesting is what does the female character put into her purse? Since my purse becomes heavier as I try to reduce what I put into it, I’m curious what kind of character would have a tiny book-sized bag and what minimal objects would be in it.


The Red Notebook

In The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, a stolen purse’s contents give the protagonist clues for finding the owner. It’s one of my favorite romance novels.



Writers do not have to describe characters’ hair color, size, etc. in a narrative way. Readers learn about main and minor characters by  actions,  dialogue, objects they treasure, and what they throw away.

garbage can coloring imageThe scientific study of trash and the way it reveals the lifestyles of a group of people is called Garbology, a small section of archaeology. Garbology scientists study modern culture as well as historic sites to learn  about societies in different time periods.  If you want to know more about Garbology, click here.

Writers can add the study of their characters’ trash to the dossiers.  I think I’ll do a mind map of  what my characters throw away and see how helpful that information will be to deepen who they are.

Let me know what you discover if you add the idea of Garbology to your characters’ profiles.



Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Editor of Written Across the Genres

Author of Hada’s Fog


  1. ladywinfred says:

    Inspired by Tim O’Brien’s THE THINGS THEY CARRIED about soldiers in the Vietnam war, I’m been mulling on a story about what women carry in their purses and what is revealed about them. Maybe it’s time I revisited that idea. Thanks for the reminder.

    • julaina says:

      I forgot that I wanted to read that book. Ariana was assigned it for homework last year. I’m sure you will come up with one of your profound stories.

  2. Funny you should mention this subject. I finally had to succumb and list my characters fro Paved with Hope. Too many villages that needed to be distinguished from each other, in names on similar to our culture’s names. I realized doing this that I had changed the name of my co-star three times. A list can be a help.

    • julaina says:

      Lists do help especially for mysteries and historical novels like yours. It’s too hard to keep all those details in one’s head. I hope you are having time to continue with your book. Miss you on Mondays.

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