Things I learnt while reading 因与聿案簿录: characters are important

To help me feel less like I wasted my time chasing someone else’s stories instead of writing my own, here’s one thing I learnt while reading the series 因与聿案簿录.

Characters can make or break a story.

It’s the characters that keeps us emotionally invested in the story. So what if a stranger gets lost in a forest? It’s not happening to us, so we don’t care. But in the same scenario, if the person that’s lost in the forest is our friend, someone we’ve come to care for, knowing that he/she is lost in the forest would drive us to action, to worry, panic. And the writer who can create characters that we can bond with, has already pulled us into a world where the stakes are real and losses hit us right where it hurts.

toy story 3

Scenes like this are why cinema theatres are dark. All the better to hide the tears and snot on your face as you try and fail to not bawl your eyes out.

This series has a lot of memorable characters who not only stand out on their own but have very interesting interactions with each other. To list them all in detail would take too long, so here’s a list of super brief descriptions and what lesson I learnt from the character.


Main characters

虞因 (Yu Yin)

Description: The easy going hothead whose ability to see dead spirits drags him into all kinds of crime scenes and potentially fatal situations.

Lesson: A character can go to extreme lengths to help other people, and go through life-and-death situations, but still be a normal guy who teases his younger brother.


少荻聿(Shao Di Yu)

Description: A purple-eyed mute who joins the family in the first book and becomes Yu Yin’s little brother.

Lesson: How to write a mysterious character. A large part of why I kept reading was because I wanted to find out what happened to him before the series starDashboardted that made him mute and landed him in the Yu family.


虞夏 (Yu Xia)

Description: Yu Yin’s short-tempered 二爸 (second dad) who’s a 38~ years old police officer who looks 18.

Lesson: How to add some violence into my stories. Yu Xia’s short temper plus crazy fists means that when he’s angry at someone (often Yu Yin for stumbling into crime scenes and teasing his little brother), it’s a punch straight to the head.


虞佟(Yu Tong)

Description: Yu Yin’s more mellow 大爸 (big dad) and Yu Xia’s twin older brother. Yu Tong is Yu Yin’s actual father, and is also a police officer that’ 38~ years old that looks 18, except he can pretend to be a little older because of his glasses.

Lesson: Still waters run deep. Of the four main character, he appears to be the most ordinary, but even ordinary people can hide extraordinary secrets.


Honourable mentions

严司 (Yan Si)

Description: A forensic doctor who likes to talk nonsense and isn’t afraid of things he should be afraid of.

Lesson: How to write an eccentric character.


玖深 (Jiu Shen)

Description: The superstitious forensic analyses who keeps getting unwanted surprise visits from ‘the other side’ when handling evidence.

Lesson: It’s good to have some normal characters with more average reactions. Makes it easier for readers to contrast how unusual all the other interesting characters are.


一太(Yi Tai)

Description: A character with scarily accurate gut instincts.

Lesson: How to write a mysterious character (type 2). He often sends his friends off on errands at certain places at certain times, and they end up at just the right place to help when things go wrong.


There are many more interesting characters throughout the series, and everyone’s reasonably realistic. As in, they aren’t so far-fetched that they’re impossible to find in real life, but they’re still different enough to leave an impression even after appearing for only a few scenes.

I want my characters to linger in people’s memories too.



Posted on January 20, 2016, in Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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