Using your Mind Banks: How to create a new world from the one you live in right now...

Published on: 08 November 2018

What's a Mind Bank? Well, let author Onjali Q Raúf explain. All the best, most interesting and absorbing stories are already inside you: you just need to delve deep and the ideas will flow...

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf (Orion Children's Books) is on the Blue Peter Book Award shortlist for 2019!

See all the books on the Blue Peter shortlist

1. Go back (and forwards) in time

You don’t need a Tardis or some extra-special Floo-powder to travel back or forwards in time and space. Your brain can do it for you – all it needs is something to give it a kickstart!

That’s where the endless banks hidden away inside your mind come in. Locked away in each of them – whether it’s your Memory bank, your Emotions bank, your Hopes bank, or your Greatest Fears bank – is a world of materials and stories.

The great thing is, everyone has the same kind of banks in their minds, too. So delve deep, chase the bank manager until you’ve unlocked all those doors, and use your real-life memories, experiences, hopes, wishes and fears as the foundation of your story. That way, however fantastical the new world you write may be, if it’s grounded in a real and shared truth, you’ll have found something for readers to connect over.

2. Go with your gut feelings

All the great storytellers of the world – whether they tell their stories through books or music or films – are able to tap into feelings, memories and emotions that are often buried deep inside us of all. To be able to use words to draw them out and make the person you’re telling your story to feel something real – a real emotion – is the greatest gift in the world.

So whether it’s anger at being treated horribly by someone, or great love for a parent or a teacher, or confusion at why things are the way they are, or hope for things that have yet to come, trust your gut and use your feelings. Chances are, you’re not alone in feeling the way you do.

3. Use your laughter bank

What makes you laugh? Or think: 'Yeah! Right!'? Or cringe but grin (I like to call it, "cringrin"!) at the same time?

No matter how serious a book may be, there is usually a moment of humour and irony to be found – and for me, at least, it’s these that tend to be the most memorable parts of a book. Humour connects and inspires new ways of looking at something you may never have even given a second thought to. So use your laughter bank and use it as often as you can – whether it’s in your actual writing, or at yourself! 

4. Look around – and listen with all your ears

Coming up with new stories and new characters can be hard work, but inspiration is everywhere. From your own slightly crazy family members to your friends and teachers at school, you are surrounded by characters who are all completely unique and individual. Take your time and listen to how people around you speak, how they use their body language, what features make them truly them.

I love watching and speaking with people who come from worlds and backgrounds that are completely different to my own. Everyone has a story to tell and lessons to teach. And when you listen – really listen – to not just what they’re saying but how they’re feeling, you’ll find you have endless materials to not only build new worlds but also widen your real one.

So don’t miss out on what people have to offer, and use all your ears (hint: you have more than two!) to take in whatever the people in your real world have to offer you – and take care to store it in your Inspirations Bank. 

Check out our other writing tips

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Blue Peter Book Awards

Since 2000, the enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children.

See who's up for the prize in 2019