How to Build a Memory Palace Pitch (Audio Blog)

This piece should do two things:

Help you summarize your story by identifying the elements that audiences look for.
Help you remember each of those elements with a simple memory trick.

The audio component isn’t a podcast, where I discover my statement halfway through making it. It isn’t spoken word poetry either. It’s a guided visualization, set to a beat. It’s fun to listen to, but I invite you to participate. To shape images from your work in progress and place them somewhere in your childhood home.

The memory palace technique takes something your brain has no problem remembering, like spacial relationships, and combines it with something that’s tough to remember, like plot points.

I was introduced to the memory palace technique by Thomas Harris, in his novel Hannibal. In the novel Dr. Hannibal Lecter recalls the events of his life by walking through famous museums in his head. He places visual cues for his memories on the walls, in the frames, and on the pedestals. At the time, I thought I would have to be a savant to pull this off. That or a psychopathic genius.

I didn’t look into the technique any further. It struck me as a pop psychology fad, something to fill seminar seats, until it was debunked, like photographic memory. Little did I know that the memory palace mnemonic device originated in ancient Rome. Story tellers had been using it for generations, until the printing press came along.

Derren Brown, an English mentalist, demystified the technique for me in his book Tricks of the Mind (I recommend the audiobook if you want to hear Brown’s charming voice). Brown introduces the chapter by saying, “The next few minutes could excitedly transform aspects of your life.” He goes gentle on his readers, starting with the ‘linking’ technique, before asking them to scale the memory palace.

Memory Champion, Joshua Foer broke the technique down even further in his book Moonwalking with Einstein. Foer emphasized the fact that our minds have an easier time recalling the absurd and the obscene.

When it came to my own memory palace, I stretched this license for vulgarity as far as I could.

The audio component that I’ve attached here is designed for multiple listens. The melody has an intentional waiting room quality. It’s not meant to be too emotional, just interesting enough to hold your attention. The acoustic guitar was performed by my friend Sam Gelfand. We went a little Peter Framptom with the wah effects. It seemed like the right thing to do.

I hope this helps you pitch your work in progress. If it does, please share it. I didn’t invent this technique. I’m just a strong advocate of it.

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