story fail/story success

When using Heisig’s method, the stories one assigns to the kanji can either work so well that one instantly remembers the character for life, or work so poorly that trying to remember the story is harder than remembering the character by rote.

Here’s an example of the second class, for the character 慣:

The previous generations had the state of mind that piercings were outlandish, but now the general public has become accustomed to this practice.

The problems with this story are twofold.  Firstly, I tend to remember the story more or less word-for-word; the words themselves are as good or better a mnemonic as the associated image.  Therefore, it is important that the keyword be the first word in the story.  That way, you read the keyword and the mind immediately fills in the rest in order.  If the keyword follows the sub-keywords, you have to remember it as a whole.  That can work, if a strong visual image is associated.  But that’s the second problem with this story; I find it difficult to make a strong visual image for it.

Unfortunately for this character I have yet to think of anything much better.

Here’s one for 泌 that worked better:

Ooze monsters are invariably found around water.  They need the moisture to maintain their shape.

The keyword is the very first word in this story.  That’s a strong point in its favour.  Also, from playing MMOs that have plenty of these ooze monsters (and they are in fact usually placed near water), it’s very easy for me to get a picture in my mind of a bunch of oozes oozing around a swamp.  The second sentence conjures an image of a didactic professor explaining the oozes in a class of some sort, which adds that bit of amusement that adds so much to memorability.

Sometimes the order of elements can be troublesome, but in this case it’s easy enough to remember that the water primitive in this form is always found on the left.

For reference here’s one such ooze:

Fairly memorable image, especially if you’ve seen and defeated hundreds of them!

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