Making Memory Stories instead of Palaces?

When I first tried using the Major System to encode some digits of Pi, I created (fairly nonsensical) stories where literally every phonetic sound in the story encoded a digit. This, as you can expect, was quite restrictive in the stories I could construct, and often the story was quite strange and not grammatically correct.

I then purposefully sat down to try to make a memory palace, not stories. However, I could not do it well. I kept returning to the storytelling style I had used before unintentionally.

So then I tried making memory stories where not every sound encodes a digit. This gives me more flexibility, and makes my stories a little more memorable. Is this as valid a method as memory palaces? My concern is how I’ll know what words in the story are encoding digits and which aren’t, some days later when I return to the story.

As a side note, does anyone else run into the same issue as me, making more action-based stories than noun/object-based palace tours?


I really hate all the sound systems, I doesn’t suit me at all for several reasons. I use an arbitrary 3-digit system (or category-based 4-digits system). However, I admire how people, and you, manage to succeed with a major or other sound-based system. And I admire the fact that you try to construct a real entire story based on that. If it works for you, then go on. Every person has their favourite techniques that work best for them. Only you can tell.

But maybe you didn’t have the right approach with memory palace. Can you give more details about how you worked on it ? What place was it ? What number system did you use ? How much time did you spend on it ? etc.

Personaly, I use only the objects/people (=images) as parts of the stories, as I don’t like actions in my number system. I use actions not to encode digits, but to remember the images more deeply, and to make it easier if necessary.

With your story method, maybe you could encode digits in the longest words only : maybe above 2-3 letters, or 1-2 syllables. That way you can use short words, like “for”, “a”, “my”, “the” etc. anywhere you want, without even thinking about if it encodes digits or not. Not sure if it would work, though.

Good luck with that, keep going and let us know how it goes ! take care


Would it be helpful to only place the coded words from the story on different loci in your palace? This way you could use whatever words you like to link the images together so they make sense in the story.


Would the concept of “nullmonix” help?

The concept is to have words that are designated as having have no mnemonic value. Kind of like adding zero to the number system.

As examples, here are some possible lists of words that could be treated as nullmonix:

Prepositions and little empty words

  1. About

  2. Above

  3. After

  4. Against

  5. Along

  6. Alongside

  7. As

  8. At

  9. Away

  10. Before

  11. Below

  12. Beneath

  13. Beside

  14. Between

  15. Beyond

  16. By

  17. Far

  18. From

  19. In

  20. Into

  21. Near

  22. Nearby

  23. Next to

  24. Of

  25. Off

  26. On

  27. On top of

  28. Over

  29. To

  30. Towards

  31. Under

  32. With

  33. Without





  1. I

  2. Me

  3. My

  4. Mine

  5. You

  6. Your

  7. Yours

  8. He

  9. Him

  10. His

  11. She

  12. Her

  13. Hers

  14. It

  15. Its

  16. They

  17. Them

  18. Them

  19. Their

  20. They’re

Conjunctions, relative pronouns, etc

  1. And

  2. But

  3. Furthermore

  4. However

  5. Moreover

  6. Nonetheless

  7. Notwithstanding

  8. Still

  9. That

  10. Which

  11. Yet


  1. Na

  2. No

  3. Nope

  4. Ya

  5. Yep

  6. Yes

  7. Yup


  1. Is

  2. Isn’t

  3. Has

  4. Hasn’t

Nondescript Images

  1. Grass

  2. Small rocks

  3. Rows of shelves

  4. Racks of clothing

  5. Snow

  6. Plants

  7. Clouds

  8. Puddles

  9. Water

  10. Passersby


“Is this as valid a method as memory palaces?”

It’s the memory palace technique, not memory palaces. The part you might be missing is that it’s more effective to encode using location. It uses our spatial memory, which is very strong. The memory palace technique is the gold standard for that.

Imagery + location


I am using the Major System right now, but I am planning to make a list of 00-99 objects so that I can do this without having to really decode in my head all the time and make recall quicker.

I chose my front room. I placed objects around it, and could do it fairly well, but I unintentionally added a lot of actions and people, to make the journey flow better. They were like the glue that kept the journey sensible and added a bit of a story line. If I tried removing them, I was left with just a bunch of seemingly non-connected items in a room, which made it slightly harder to remember. Maybe I could work on making all the objects of a similar theme.

I used the Major System, sometimes encoding 2 digits, and sometimes 3 or 4 digits, in a word. I spent a day doing it, in which I could encode around 80 digits.

Yeah I do this unintentionally with small things like articles, prepositions and other such words, but I do sometimes end up adding actual nouns that don’t contribute to the digits which causes the problem. I’ll try working on reducing this.

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Hmm, could you elaborate? The way I understand it, you are suggesting turning the story into a palace, and then using the story so that it makes sense? My intention had been to originally create a palace, but it kept slowly turning into a story.

Oh wow, this is a great list. I had been unintentionally ignoring words like articles, pronouns and prepositions, but this last section about nondescript images and certains nouns might just help a lot. Using these might just help in fleshing out the actual palace so that it makes a bit more sense.


Right, this makes me think my action based thing is not as effective compared to the traditional room based tours. I’ll work on trying to use familiar locations and stronger imagery then. Thank you for the clarification of the term.

Exactly, you make images of the coded words you want to remember and place them in chronological order inside your palace. This already could be sufficient to memorize them, but I feel it adds value by creating a story with these images and even makes it more memorable. And because you placed the keywords in your loci, you wouldn’t struggle to remember which words are coded, you simply walk through your palace while narrating the story.

Short example: let’s say you would want to remember the number 77 63 18 79 - this could be ‘coke’ ‘gym’ ‘dove’ ‘cape’. You then place these items in your palace. A pile of coke at the front door, a bunch of gym equipment on a table, a dove on the sofa and a (superman) cape at the window. Now you can create a story with these items. Something like you tripped into a big pile of coke and got so hyped you needed to go to the gym to burn of the excess energy from the blow, but you must have inhaled way to much coke because now you are seeing some weird things like a dove the size of Schwarzenegger with a big superman cape is lifting wheights and looking at you strange.

The story in itself could be memorable and by walking through your palace you also know which words to encode.

Hope this helps.

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Ah thanks for clarifying. I’ll try this approach of adding the items first and then trying to link them meaningfully.

@Vortexagon, I’ve been working on understanding the nature of the palace and the story myself lately and have enjoyed hearing where people have difficulty. I’m a teacher and am writing lessons for mnemonics so the topic has helped me.

But the idea of linking the stored information seems to be a great idea if you stick with just a story and it’s detailed enough. The palace, a type of peg system, can have a traversal style of a story (a journey is the better name) or a rule. The information you store needs no traversal in a peg system in my understanding since that’s the purpose of the pegs. @Dante uses a story for placing four items at the front door it seems and that’s a great strategy for placing multiple items in one place.

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The way the two techniques can be used they are bot powerful
The Memory palace - using spatial memory is very strong.
The Story method ( to me is similar to the linking method) is almost as powerful. When it gets really long it increases the possibility of “breaking a link”. Thus making it hard to remember the rest of the story.

The case where you were memorising PI with the major method. Try using a specific image for a number ( 2 digit or single ).
For example:
I use CAT for 71. However it is not any old cat. It is a very bored, sleepy eyed Garfield cat.
I use MUG for 37. Not any old mug, but a mug that my mother got for me, with my name engraved with stylish lettering, and with the handle partly broken off due to my dropping it while washing dishes.

Since they are so specific, once I “see” them in my minds eye I know they are for numbers and what number. Even if I put other images into the story so it makes sense to me. Nothing to mix up.

Once you iron out your images you will find it easy to memorise longer series of numbers in either method.

For later on:
I tend to use the memory palace as I tend to remember spaces really well.
However when I want to compress a number of facts into one loci, I would use the story method to connect those facts, then I would store that story onto a loci in a memory palace.

However you may need to practice using them separately first to get used to them.


Hey, thanks for mentioning pegs. I’ll check them out in more detail, and see if they help with my recall.

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Yeah, I’m working on a system for 00-99, but it is admittedly quite generic. I will take this into account and try spicing up the imagery, it sounds like a promising way to improve recall.

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I mostly use memory palaces, but I used stories to memorize the Rubicks cube. Just storing the moves never stuck for me but creating a story for each set of moves worked beautifully. There is a post on it on this forum.


For remembering the words above I can create a story by -

  1. Taking the keywords in each sentence
    Ex- Idea, Linking, Stored, Information, Great, Idea, Stick, Just, Story, Detailed, Enough.

  2. Taking the first letter of each word.
    Ex- I, L, S, I, G, I, S, J, S, D, E

  3. Expanding each of the first letter into a word with every expanded word being dissimilar than the words before it.

Ex- Input, Loop, Stone, Intelligent, Greatest, Investment.

Stone,Joker, Superpower, Destabaliser, Enterpreture

  1. Creating a Story out of those words(With the sentence to be remembered being at the end of the story)

Story 1- An input is put into a loop with stones being thrown a intelligent person with his greatest investment being linking the stored information.

Story 2- Stones being thrown at the Joker because of his superpower of being a Destabaliser enterpreture which seems to be a great idea if he sticks with a story that is detailed enough.

After following the steps above I have created a memorable story every time I had tried to create a story with it maybe because each word in the stories created by this method is more memorable than the words before it
and for me it has lead to longer retention of the sentences memorized with it.

The mnemonic examples are for memorizing a comment written by thinkaboutthebible.


I use a combination of locations and stories/vignettes, so that I can encode 8 digits per location in the palace, with each digit representing one object (using the Major System) and with the 4 objects interacting in a “story.” I find that more than 4 objects gets more difficult to recall.
So for example, for the first 8 digits of pi – In my first location I see a piece of Meat (3.1) being pushed by a Rat (41) into 2 giant Lip(s) (59) and then the teeth inside the lips gNash (26) the meat.
I then move to my next location and I see a Lamb (53) covered in Leaf(s) (58), and I move behind the animal and note with surprise that its tail is actually the tail of a Pig (97), and at that very moment of realisation I hear a click and the animal explodes, having been in fact a Bomb (93).
(And while all this is happening, I have a sense of the lips gnashing on the meat behind me, which I think serves to maintain the memory trace-assembly without any effort).

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