The other day I found a purse that I'd stopped using last year when I got a new one. There was lots of stuff still inside - pens and notepaper, receipts, a few coins, some candies, a favourite pen that I thought I'd lost, and some lip gloss I hadn't seen for a while.
It got me thinking about how my daughter's backpack is filled with all sorts of things - forgotten homework and parent notices, erasers, socks, precious pencils worn down to stubs, candy wrappers (no leftover candies here), stones, and many odds and ends that have no significance to me, but are (or were at some point) important to her.
It would be cool to use a prop like this to generate story ideas.
From one backpack or bag you can begin to develop a character: Why is she saving rocks, does she have a rock collection? Does she want to be prepared to defend herself? Is she collecting it for her bug house? Thinking about why the character has that specific item helps to establish some of her emotions and motivation.
It might also spark a story: What's something cool a character could discover in their mom's purse? Why are they snooping in their mom's purse? What should they do about that thing they found in the purse in the attic? Why does that boy's backpack always have a weird smell? Is there something alive in there? And many more. Does it give you a few ideas?
I don't often sit down and generate all the possible ideas that can come from a single item, but it's a fun way to get the creative juices flowing.
Do you ever think about what's inside your character's backpack or purse?