9 Ways How to Memorize Lines on a Short Notice

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Many actors and actresses, at some point in time, find themselves in a predicament where they have lines to memorize. But a limited length of time to do it in. Maybe you have a mundane job that made you work overtime. Maybe you have to quickly learn lines for a part in a production where you have to sub in for someone who dropped out last minute. Possibly something important or unexpected happened in your life and now you are struggling to get your script down and learn how to memorize lines.

Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, you cannot predict the unpredictable. So sometimes you just have to try to buckle down and get those lines memorized as quickly as possible. This article will give you some helpful tips and techniques that will help you figure out how to memorize lines fast.

how to memorize lines

How to Memorize Lines: 9 Fast Tips

1. A Friend Is Always There for You

One way to get those lines under your belt is to enlist the help of a friend. Find that one friend who will get on your case and not let you slack off. Tell them they need to help you learn how to memorize lines fast. Sit somewhere you can concentrate and run your lines with each other until you get them stuck in your brain.

Using a partner can motivate you, offer you encouragement not to give up, and give you a small support system. It also uses more sense than just reading to yourself silently. This gives the information another avenue to ingrain itself into your memory.

2. Try a Different Partner

Friends are great for off hour times to get extra practice. However, an even better partner to learn how to memorize lines is someone who is also involved in the production. They will be familiar with the material and will have experience in reading a script properly.

  • At first just listen to them read your lines to you. Think about what is happening in the story and what motivation you can extract from it.
  • Then read your lines aloud allowing yourself to move through them slowly one line at a time. This will let you really absorb each one.
  • When you get comfortable with that get up, walk around, and move while you are reciting them quicker. Allow yourself to naturally move along and gesture with the lines.
  • Use your partner to help you through lines you may stumble over.
  • Finally, get your partner involved by interacting with them in the parts of the script that use multiple people. At this point repetition is your goal.

3. Get Some ZZZs

Cramming can be tiring. We have all seen our face in the mirror the next day after a cram session for that big calculus test. It isn’t pretty. You will want to look refreshed for your performance or audition.

Getting some good sleep will allow your brain and body to reboot and unwind. You will find that instead of losing all those lines after some sleep, you will able to easily recall them with your clear mind.

girl writing

4. Grab a Pencil

I learned this trick from a teacher. I know it sounds boring and tedious but it has gotten me through many spelling tests and scripts myself. Similar to the prior mentioned steps that show how to memorize lines, writing adds another path for your brain to use to remember.

Writing uses three different processes making it more complicated process overall. This fact really gets your brain focused on what it is learning. It visually takes in the words and even letters and their shapes. It uses your motor skills to write and form the letters. Finally, it uses the cognitive areas of your brain to form the letters. Add your ears to the mix and it is like you are plugged into multiple learning resources instead of just one.

5. Did I Say This Already?

I know, I know, I keep reiterating the importance of using multiple senses to teach you how to memorize lines. Well, it is important and here is another technique you can use.

If the production you are in has been done already on film or stage (which it likely has), grab yourself a copy of it and have a movie night. While you watch the film, read your lines along with the actor or actress that is doing your part. This gives you visual cues, lets your ears listen to the lines, and your brain and mouth get in on the game through trying to recite the lines along with the film.

This is a great exercise not only because of all the stimulation through your senses. But because you will find yourself enveloped in the story and will be trying to keep up with the lines. Plus, if you stumble over a particular line, you still get to hear it in order with your other lines. You can quickly jot down or highlight that line to look over later without missing a beat in the scene.

6. Use Your Time Wisely

If you know your deadline is around the corner and you are struggling with how to memorize lines, use your time wisely. What I mean by this is realize where you can get some extra practice time in. If you commute to work, run through your lines. Doing housework or cooking a meal? Run through your lines.

Any free time is a great time to run lines. In fact, you can really get your brain wrapped around memorizing them. This is because you will be using only your brain to run your lines while all the other parts of your body will be preoccupied with other tasks.

7. Record Yourself

Some people even use their sleep time to help subliminally solidify the memorized lines. Do not rely on this technique on its own. Instead, couple it with other techniques. It is really just a way to strengthen what you have already learned and giving it some extra adherence.

Use the voice recorder on your phone to tape yourself saying your lines. Then at bed or during activities where you are somewhat preoccupied, listen to it on some headphones. Some studies have shown this helps your memory recall. Others say you are just learning because you are getting some good rest during the night. Either way, there is some benefit to be had.

8. Relax

Obviously when trying to figure out how to memorize lines in a short amount of time you will find that you may get panicked. That is normal. With a looming deadline and a fresh script it is difficult to calm your nerves. However, it is important that you do.

A calm and collected mind will have a much easier time retaining information. Try doing some yoga or meditation while you listen to a recording of your lines. Do not forget to take a break from your intensive memorization routine to calm yourself so that you can start fresh and relaxed.

9. You Are Human

In cases where you are given some lines in a severe time crunch, you need to realize you are human. Sometimes you will find your director or the casting director are completely aware of, and sympathetic to, that fact. If you are weary about how well you memorized your lines, ask if it would be okay to have a script nearby for reference in case you get tripped up.

In most cases, you will never even need to use it. Some find that it gives them more confidence simply by knowing it is there for them if they do happen to need it. Others find that they will work harder to not have to use it because they do not want to make a bad impression. Either result is beneficial.

Now, it is important to realize that just because one director allowed you to keep a script handy doesn’t mean they all will. Some will see that and think you did not feel it was important to prepare for your audition or part. So while this is an option, it should be a last resort option.

preparing for movie


Having a script dropped on you last minute may get you in a panic. You may find yourself searching online for how to memorize lines quickly. It is not an impossible feat. There are many techniques that can be used. So the more of them you use together, the better chances you will have to get those lines embedded into your cranium. The more practice you get in, and the more progress you make. Consequently, the easier it will get as you go along. So, do not panic and get those lines going.

What sort of memorization tips can you give someone to help with a script they got on short notice? How understanding are directors and casting directors under these circumstances in your experience? Which technique did you find helped you the most when you needed to quickly remember your script? Feel free to leave any helpful comments for others who are looking at the same situation.

Images: depositphotos.com.