In my opinion, characters learning process is of the most importance in learning Mandarin Chinese. In my teaching experience, we've seen too many cases where there is a huge difference between the learning results of those who learn characters and those who skip this step just try to save time. The latter usually ended up spending more boring time memorizing and memorizing... Therefore, I always believe the KEY to learn well Chinese, a language that is so much different than English, is FIRST to learn well the characters.
There are definitely tips to learn the writing or understand the composition of Chinese characters! Many thought it is difficult to learn Mandarin Chinese, particularly the characters. It is not true though. It takes time and efforts to learn it well, but what doesn't? In my opinion, Chinese is one of the most interesting languages in the world! Chinese is a picture language, which means ancient Chinese people drew different pictures as Chinese characters out of everything they saw in the environment! Therefore, the best way to learn well the language, in my own experience as a Chinese teacher for many years, is to learn the radicals of the characters first, which by themselves usually have hints from the writing (or drawing) and then form the meaning of a character. This is exactly the approach that is been used in the Chinese tutoring video lessons of the website http://www.ChineseHulu.com, check it out if you want to find out more about Mandarin Chinese, one of the most mysterious and ancient languages in the world!