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Chinese characters can be broken up into a number of categories, only one of which are pictograms like you described. 象形字, or pictograms, are simple characters like 日, 山, 口 that are visual representations of the words that they mean. 指事字, or simple ideograms, are simple characters like 上 and 下 which are visual representations of more abstract concepts, ...


You can look in for character analysis. I've heard they may not always agree with other experts, but I like it. Just click search and put the pinyin in the box, it gives you a break down of most characters. The 'logic' may be lost in history!


There are general guidelines listed in the Stroke order article at Wikipedia. Even still, there are varying standards (also noted by that same article) on what is considered the "correct" stroke order. The article goes into further detail on some of the differences, but practically speaking, the guidelines should generally serve you well.

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