you understand them by breaking down the strokes or just simple keep the sounds of the meaning in your mind?

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While I haven't been focusing explicitly on writing Chinese characters i find it helps me to recognize the character by sound and meaning. It's kinda funny, because you can have 5 different words pronounced the same way. So you have to refer to and link that image to that pronunciation.  I also find that while many of the characters have the same pronunciation more often than not they share one of a few common radicals. So that's a gateway to knowing how it's pronounced. But what i find to be a more surefire method of "figuring out" a character is identifying based on radical meaning. While not 100% accurate, will often get you in the right direction

I find the old fashion rote method works for me, I just write them over and over again saying it over and over as I write it. I use flashcards too. I like to break the character down to its component parts to understand them separately and then put it back together as another way of remembering it. 

I think knowing your radicals and phonetic, pictorial and homophone parts,  help to give the character lots to remember it with.

I like the "stories" that go with some characters but only the ones that are actually part of its etymology and history, I am a big fan of Wieger (Chinese Characters) and more modern equivalents.

I practice witing characters in as many ways as possible, paper, tablet, pen&tablet on my PC, on my phone, all to keep it interesting.

I have always felt learning characters ,pinyin and speaking together is the best way cos it gives you lots of ways of hanging it all together.

I think you`d better know more about etymology first. Here is the Four Main Types of Chinese Characters.

Chinese characters are originated from pictures. So the vivid pictures can impress you. At the beginning, I recommend ShaoLan who is the founder of Chineasy. It`s a quite interesting way to learn character. Here is an introduction of her. http://www.digmandarin.com/interview-with-chinese-characters-magica...

Good luck!

I think Chinese learners have to know the origins, elements and explanations behind the formation of the Chinese Characters first when they start to memory Chinese characters. I have 4 main ways to memory Chinese words, http://www.hanbridgemandarin.com/article/chinese-characters-learnin...

Hope thest 4 ways can help you, good luck! If you still have problems of Chinese characters, you can contact me, I will help you.

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