The European settlers famously ‘bought’ Manhattan island from the Native American Indians for some glass breads. It’s often referred to as an example of a great business deal. Selling something of negligible value for something of great value. (It’s been pointed out that the Native American Indians didn’t really understand the implication of the transaction. They didn’t have the same concept of ownership as the Europeans.)

The transaction was a ‘good deal’ for one side. A ‘con’ for the other.

For the storyteller, the glass beads are trinkets. Shiny objects that Magpie’s are attracted to. And, stories need Magpies.

Fictional characters often go in search of trinkets. These can be actual objects in the real world or virtual trinkets that only exist in a character’s mind.

The quest for the trinket is a kind of pointless quest. For a character in a fictional story it appears as:

  1. A pointless journey, searching for a trinket.
  2. A pointless journey, searching for a trinket, that leads (by coincidence or design) to a useful journey.
  3. A pointless journey, searching for a trinket, (that may or may not lead to the trinket), resulting in an inner revelation or discovery.

Trinkets are desires, illusions, bogus dreams that promise completeness.

Anyone who’s lived a little has sought a trinket or two — writers and readers. It’s something an audience will understand. The trinket story is a certain kind of story. A character getting the runaround. A tragedy. Or a comedy.