Bailey’s World

Jo Knowles, young adult author, offers a Monday morning warm-up for the Teachers Write group. Here is today’s, where she challenged us to think about our character’s world. I’m attempting to answer her questions about my brand new character, Bailey.

Bailey’s bully has the power when he’s at school. He is easy to tease. His mom often accuses him of being a target. “Don’t let the bad boys get your goat,” she has been known to tell him. At home, he has a lot of independence and feels more powerful. He feels confused by his two roles in his life. His mother trusts him, and she is often at work, so she’s a little distant. Dad has been unemployed for several months. He works in his wood shop and tries to make projects to sell to help the family. Bailey loves his father and sometimes helps him in his shop.

Bailey’s economic status is lower middle class. His father had been out of work for six months when he had a heart attack. There is health insurance, because his mother is employed, and he was always on insurance through her work. The deductible is $8,000, though, and the family most years have not had to pay it all and haven’t needed expensive medical bills, until this year.

Social status: they are members of a middle-sized community in central Iowa. They do not go to church, which is unusual in their community. Mom works in a manufacturing company that makes parts from carbon fiber for the aerospace and medical industries. It pays fairly well for a job on a manufacturing line.

Bailey is an only child. He was adopted, and his parents were in their late 40’s when he was adopted.

Bailey is introverted, loves reading, and shuns technology for some reason, I don’t know why yet. He’s in grade 6 at the public school.

Some questions I need more information about:

  • What is Bailey’s quest?
  • What makes Bailey’s world unique?
  • What makes Bailey’s world dangerous/safe?
  • How does the setting help or hinder Bailey’s quest?

Thank you, Jo!

Bank of Writing Ideas


My first word on the noun generator was chair.

“The hard oaken chair under her butt was as irritating as trying to discipline oneself in a fancy bakery. It caused her to squirm and wonder what in the world she would write next. Instead, she got up and ate a cookie.”

Thanks, Jody. It was delicious.

And thanks to Rosanne, for the ideas below, which will serve me well in the future. One hundred setting and character ideas from which to glean.


  1. Ten places I’ve lived in my life. (I didn’t realize I have actually lived in this many different homes.)
    • Fairlock house
    • Virginia house
    • Clark Ave. apartment
    • Veurink’s apartment
    • 16th Street house
    • Grand Avenue house
    • Superintendent’s home
    • College house
    • Sutton Place
    • Hearn Rd.
    • 5th Street
  2. Ten places I have a strong emotional connection to
    • the backyard-filling, ground to sky avocado tree at Uncle Arthur and Aunt Thelma’s
    • the California desert
    • Disneyland
    • Trinity Bible Church
    • Lander, Wyoming
    • Yellowstone National Park
    • Spalding
    • Huntington Beach
    • Aunt Josephine and Uncle Ellery’s farm
    • my kitchen
  3. Ten places I have visited on vacation or places I’d love to visit in my lifetime were money and time no object.

    By Mike Vondran on Flickr with CC-BY-2.0

    • Seattle
    • Surrey, B.C.
    • Nespelem Community, Washington
    • Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro
    • Australia and the Great Barrier Reef
    • Boston
    • Washington, D.C.
    • Paris
    • London
    • Rome
    • the moon
    • Angel Falls in Venezuela
  4. Ten places from which my ancestors or in-laws come. (My daughter and I just took a 3 hour break on! Yikes–it is amazing, the information that is there about our relatives.)
    • Wales
    • Bern, Switzerland
    • Germany
    • Georgia
    • Alabama
    • Texas
    • Los Angeles
    • Ohio
    • Michigan
    • Maryland
    • Washington, D.C.
  5. Ten books or movies that have settings I’ve found particularly captivating.
    • The Help – I felt myself tempted to speak with an accent and I became more interested in southern culture as a result of this book.
    • Larklight – I was fascinated with the historical science fiction setting in this book. It was during Britain’s colonial period where they colonized outer space, as well, with big wooden spaceships.
    • James and the Giant Peach – Being inside the peach pit of a giant peach is pretty intriguing.
    • The Odyssey and O Brother, Where Art Thou? – The whole epic journey story and fighting against the elements and bad guys were enjoyable in these stories.
    • The Trumpet of the Swan – I love the northern Canada woodlands for a setting, as well as the crazy world where a trumpet-blowing and writing swan makes sense.
    • Animal Farm – Maybe it’s the characters that are more captivating than the farm setting, but the whole idea captivates me.
    • Saving Private Ryan – World War II is a time in history that is so interesting. I can’t watch this movie without getting motion sick, though.
    • Alice’s Adventures Wonderland – I would love to go to this crazy place!
    • Lord of the Flies – I wouldn’t want to live their story, but the island would be interesting to visit.
    •  Indiana Jones series – The setting in these movies is wonderful. Dangerous, but always conquerable if you keep close to Indy.


  1. Ten jobs I’ve done in my life
    • packing tacks with a tiny scale in my house as a kid
    • farmer’s market baker
    • gardener
    • teacher
    • reading specialist
    • Hallmark card store clerk
    • secretary
    • staffing clerk at a hospital
    • babysitter
    • editor
  2. Ten famous people, historical or contemporary, that I would love to share a meal with.
    • Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain – I would want to share a meal with these two together, so I could just enjoy the ensuing conversation between the two.
    • Barack and Michelle Obama
    • Golda Meir
    • Margaret Thatcher
    • Indira Gandhi
    • George Washington
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Norman Borlaug
    • Theodore Seuss Geisel
  3. Ten ethnicities, religions, tribes, cultural groups, gender or sexual orientations, or political philosophies that are represented in my extended family.
    • Protestant Christian
    • Catholic Christian
    • Christian Scientist
    • Jewish
    • white
    • Mexican
    • Vietnamese
    • Japanese
    • straight
    • gay
    • Democrat
    • Republican
    • conservative
    • liberal
  4. Ten people who can make you laugh.
    • Cheryl W. – storyteller extraordinaire
    • Brenda O. – ditto
    • Steve Martin
    • Tina Fey
    • Seth Myers
    • Krayton – talented, warm, inclusive
    • Cesar – smiling, dancing, laughing
    • Katie – dry, rich sense of humor and funny sounds when she gets going
    • Mr. Thornberg – high school business teacher
  5. This sentence ten times. “I’ve always wanted to _____ like ____________.
    • I’ve always wanted to sing like Carole King.
    • I’ve always wanted to converse like Keith.
    • I’ve always wanted to relay stories like Cheryl.
    • I’ve always wanted to confront like Chris.
    • I’ve always wanted to save money like Katie.
    • I’ve always wanted to innovate like Steve Jobs.
    • I’ve always wanted to be a problem solver like my mom.
    • I’ve always wanted to never give up like Joey.
    • I’ve always wanted to read as fast as Maria.
    • I’ve always wanted to cook like Julia Childs.