STORY SPELL

Story Spell™ is a completely different way to remember how to spell a word correctly.  It doesn’t use phonics or spelling rules.  Story Spell™ works by harnessing two essential parts of our humanity: our memory, and our ability to create stories.

Story Spell™ works by having a set of standard characters that represent letters.  It’s just like ‘A’ is for Apple from nursery school, except we include characters representing common letter pairs as well as single letters.  For example, we use a Christmas elf to represent E and an egg stands for ‘GG’  We call them ‘letter characters’. 

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The magic of Story Spell™ is that it helps you construct a story using mnemonic principles, which make it easier to remember the story accurately and recall it when needed. 

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Here is an example, using the word “arpeggio”, which this author had problems spelling.

There are several important aspects to the story

  • The story starts with a representation of the problem word.

  • I, the speller, is the story’s protagonist.  I hear the arpeggio and I can see all the characters.

  • The letter characters, the rug, the pig, the elf, and the egg appear in the order corresponding to the order of their letters in ‘a-R-P-E-GG-io’. 

  • In the story, the letter characters interact with the one following, so the pig is sitting on the rug, the elf is next to the pig and the egg is being leaned on by the elf

These aspects are crucial to making a story spell work.

  • Hearing the arpeggio as the first element links this story directly to the concept ‘arpeggio’ in my memory.  This makes it much more likely that I can recall the story when I need to spell the word.

  • As I am the protagonist, I can directly imagine hearing the arpeggio and seeing the characters.  This binding of senses to a memory helps reinforce my memory structure holding the story.

  • I can already remember that arpeggio starts with ‘ar’ and ends with ‘io’, so I don’t include ‘a’ or ‘io’ in the story.  I do include ‘r’ though.  This is to fix the start of the list of letters I need to remember to the bits of the word I can already remember how to spell. 

  • The letter characters appear in the same order as their letters do in the word because you don’t just need to remember what letters are in the word, but the order in which they appear. 

  • The interaction between the characters forms memorable links between them.  This is the cornerstone of a ‘linked list’ mnemonic structure.  It forms a chain that allows us to remember the characters, and thus their letters, in the correct order.

“The thing about elves is they've got no... begins with m," Granny snapped her fingers irritably.

"Manners?"

"Hah! Right, but no"

"Muscle? Mucus? Mystery?"

"No. No. No. Means like... seein' the other person's point of view."

Verence tried to see the world from a Granny Weatherwax perspective and suspicion dawned. "Empathy?"

"Right. None at all.”

 

The late, great, Terry Pratchett in Lords and Ladies

This is just one word and one story, but our system is infinitely extensible.  When constructing stories for different words, the characters stay the same, while the story changes.  Just like a good soap opera, one cast of characters can be used again and again in an infinite number of plots.   For instance, the elf reappears in my story for ‘sentence’ to help me remember that it's an 'e' and not an 'a' in the middle of the word.  The apple appears in my stories for ‘aggravate’ and ‘embarrass’.

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As part of the product, we have a pre-defined set of characters that allow you to spell in English.  The system is easily extended to any language with a new set of characters.  We have packs of character cards beautifully illustrated by our friend Nicki Kirby and strategy briefings to help you develop your Story Spelling.

As soon as we can, we are bringing Story Spell™ to your PC, phone and tablet through a new website and apps available on the Android and Apple Stores.  This will help make the system even easier to use, and help you manage your time so that you can practise your stories and spelling anywhere and anytime that suits you.  Watch this space!