Story Analysis

Title: Four Rules of Murder

Author: Elisabeth Wong

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Young Adults


List the characters in the story and give a thorough description of each one (3-4 sentences). Consider physical, emotional, relational, social status, and occupational characteristics.

WARNING: Lots of content ahead which will probably be added on to later.

Piper Teag, Number 1. Also known as the Ace, she’s killed more than any of the other Tetrad, and is one of the most heartless. She focuses more on her job than anything else, since it’s her very life. Though she looks like your ordinary twenty-four year old with thin, shoulder-length brown hair and dark eyes, she is truly ruthless when she’s on a mission. When someone needs to go quickly, efficiently, and invisibly, she’s the one to call. She’s charismatic, somewhat bossy, and cold, but still liked and admired by the other Tetrad because she knows how to push their buttons and encourage them (even sometimes Toshiro.) As the “head” of the Tetrad, she’s also the one the others look to when they’re without contact with the Head, especially since she knows how to make cool, calculated decisions when under stress, and never rushes into something without thinking it through with the whole picture in mind. After a relatively normal childhood in a turbulent family, she ran away from home and was found by the Group, who took her in and began training her when she was fifteen.

Mori Toshiro, Number 2. A half-Japanese boy who goes by “Theo” for those stupid Americans who can’t pronounce his name, he looks down on Americans in general. He doesn’t talk much, but when he does, he’s bitingly sarcastic and rude. After his (American) mother left when he was two, his father mostly left Toshiro to his own business except for the “cultural values” he taught him – that is to say, Mori Yamada (his father) brainwashed him into looking down on all Americans. When Toshiro was seven, his dad died, and Toshiro was taken in by the Group to be trained mostly because of his quick learning. At nineteen years of age, he’s called on when there are very unpredictable or shaky situations, as he’s resourceful and adapts easily to new situations. He has brown, almost black hair and dark eyes, and is rather tall and thin, making his weaker points hand-to-hand combat, which is why he prefers a “cheat” cleaning of swooping in and killing before the victim even has time to react. Mostly he’s used for gathering information as well, since he tends to be stealthier and not so good with people in general.


Seth Grayson, Number 3. He’s the most consciously analytical of the people around him; while Lisa subconsciously alters her attitude and personality to make people more likely to like her, Seth mentally notes people’s habits and deduces things from them. He’s typically a good people-reader, with smooth social skills that can easily win others’ favor with little effort. Though somewhat perfectionistic, Seth mostly knows when to let things slide (like grades or a messy “cleaning”), including his conscience, which can come back to haunt him frequently. He hates being called a genius because he sees it as a kind of limit and even a weakness. He always sees the flaws in himself, in people, and in the world in general, though he always wants to be stronger. With his black hair and deep blue eyes, Seth generally makes an impression on anyone he meets, and though he otherwise looks rather average, his natural charm makes him easily popular and unforgettable. His good physical condition sometimes seems “wasted,” as Toshiro complains, since he already reads people so well and tends not to have great need for much bodily exertion during actual cleanings.

Lisa Debonair, Number 4.She’s a cheerful girl who almost seems to have mood swings – except that she can’t, because the Group doesn’t take on kids with mental disorders. Seth has the hardest time understanding her, as she seems to be able to set work and everyday life apart quite well without showing other signs of being a psychopath. Though she’s somewhat less dependable than the other “children,” she’s good at blending in with normal people and making them feel comfortable, which is perfect for when the Group needs to eliminate someone who tends to be a little more suspicious of people. She’s leaning a bit on the overweight side, which is why her weaker point tends to be most physical activity, and she has brown wavy hair and blue eyes. As the youngest of the Tetrad, the fourteen-year-old sometimes acts rather childish, though this may be due to the nature of her neglected childhood. Her best method of cleaning is stabbing in the back (literally and figuratively): getting close to someone and then ending them. After a particularly traumatizing clean, she loses it and turns away from the Tetrad.

Marshall Peterson. Also called “Target D” in respect to the Group. The “accident” of the first Head, Marshall is an eighteen-year-old high school senior who’s chill, warm, and humorous. He’s typically well-sought after by the ladies, and his “chocolate” brown eyes have been the source of many a heartache. He has no known affiliation with the Group aside from being Seth’s neighbor and Target. Although an admittedly talented athlete who gives even Seth a run for his money, Marshall has aspirations not in the athletic field, but in the medical one, as he cares for people and wants to help them. This doesn’t sit so well with Seth the Murderer, who loves to debate about whether or not people are worth helping at all.

Kit Remick. If you have the gall to ask her, no, Kit does not stand for anything. Sometimes she refers to herself as Kit Kat, but if anyone else tries calling her that, they either have a death wish or haven’t known her for longer than 24 hours. She’s a tomboy with no use for glitter or pink, or anything stupidly girly for that matter, and in her eyes, dumb romance is just about as good as Barney – if not worse. She tends to have strong opinions about the world, and if you want to argue with her about it, she’ll push on relentlessly until one of you dies or you give up. Failure or defeat is not an option, which may be why she develops a sort of grudge against Seth, whom she apparently feels threatened by. If she takes pride in one thing, it’s her tomboyish behavior and her sharp mind, which usually gets her to the top of any class; however, as Seth realizes later, being intelligent isn’t always the same thing as being wise or even street smart. Kit has somewhat curly brown hair and blue eyes.

Scott Goodman, AKA “Butterscotch.” (Tends to be confused with Derik Scott.) Nobody knows how Scott got into high school in the first place, because it’s true that he tends to be an unfocused, somewhat dense guy. He may be somewhat ADD, as he has trouble keeping with a conversation and constantly brings up new subjects, even when his friends are in the middle of another topic. Seth finds him unbelivably annoying and tries to stray away from the energetic young man with the distasteful blonde beard and overly active blue eyes.

Optimus Hazard, AKA “Optimal Hazard.” If there’s one thing people wish he would change about himself, it’s his name – but growing up with interesting parents has made Opt an interesting person. If you ask anyone, he’s definitely a unique and refreshing person – anyone besides Seth, at least, who wishes Opt was his Target sometimes so the world could be made a better place. But there’s no questioning the fact that this half-Taiwanese, half-American man certainly has his own flair. If a little bit of a show-off (unless you’re speaking with Seth, who may tend to exaggerate Opt’s negative qualities somewhat), Opt at least keeps things lively with his crazy stunts and even crazier sense of style. His long hair goes halfway down his back and tends to change colors about once a week, and though evidence suggests that he was born with black hair, nobody has seen his natural hair color since he was twelve. He thinks it a tragedy that people have been brainwashed into thinking they must only wear matching clothes, which is why he tends to look like “ancient dinosaur vomit that was regurgitated after weeks of being flushed around in other garbage” (to put it delicately, as Seth does). Yes, he’s a rather messed up kid, as Seth will assure you any day. He makes no money and so tends to borrow a lot from his friends… and, perhaps the most irritating of all, cannot for the life of him take a hint or recognize any kind of social cues whatsoever.

Audrey Park. A Korean-American social butterfly, she’s in wherever there’s action. People tease her for being “travel-sized” because she’s somewhat short and petite, but she tries not to let her annoyance at that show for fear of losing her friends. Even though she’s insecure, she makes others feel comfortable around her and is always trying to include everyone, and that makes her quite a few friends, which is just what she likes and needs. If there’s the slightest sign of someone not liking her, Audrey takes it personally and sometimes tends to overreact to the things she notices – things that can be real or imagined. Part of her culture places too much emphasis on looks, which she has definitely adopted and so may care too much about how others see her.

Derik Scott, AKA The Secretary, or the “Babysitter.” (Also sometimes referred to as “Daddy.”) He constantly monitors the Tetrad’s actions to make sure they’re in control and following directions. At the same time, though, he almost acts as a fatherly figure to the children, and isn’t rejected by Toshiro because he’s technically more African than he is American (2nd gen immigrant). As a bald forty-year-old with a kind face, most can be deceived with his appearance of being almost overly nice, but any one of the Tetrad can tell you that when he means business, he means business. There are rare times when he may seem intimidating, but most of the time he’s laidback and has a somewhat dry sense of humor that he imposes on the kids. Most of the time they don’t appreciate his jokes – they really need to laugh more. Derik tries to separate business from his relationships with the Tetrad, but he often finds himself struggling with his care for them and his care for the job at hand.

Elijah Fleming, AKA the “News” or “Messenger.” As a middle-aged bachelor, Elijah Fleming (or Phlegm/Flem, as the kids like to call him) has nothing much to do in his life except for deliver messages – so he figures he may as well have fun with them. Trying out coded messages, bursting in with crazy smoke-filled entrances, or spamming the Tetrad’s emails with seemingly random notes are some of his favorite pastimes. Though not thin, Flem isn’t overweight, and you can see his sense of fun and immaturity in his sincere face. He usually likes to comb back his silver-lined brown hair, and his “boring” brown eyes are made up for by his extremely loud personality.(The kids don’t usually laugh at his jokes, either, which is of some condolence to Derik. Flem does, however, tend to be the butt of many jokes, which he usually doesn’t mind even though he pretends to.)

Point of View

Write a sentence explaining who tells the story.

Most of the story will be third-person limited from Seth’s perspective, but it may also occasionally change to the other characters.


Write a sentence stating the time and place.

This is set in modern times, and though many of the events will take place in one city, it’ll also be across the United States and online.

Plot Outline

Write a paragraph synopsis of the story (6-8 sentences). Include a summary of the characters, setting, conflict, and theme. This should read like a blurb on the back of a book.

He’s just an ordinary guy. Except that he’s an elite agent, a killer… oh yeah. And he’s still a teenager.

As the fourth of the Tetrad, a group of assassins, Seth Grayson “doesn’t exist.” For most of his life, he’s been trained in killing, blending in, and disappearing. Only those in the tiny government-hired organization “Group” know of his existence, and his actions are constantly monitored from waking to sleeping.

When Seth is assigned to protect an ordinary high school student named Marshall Peterson, the assassin wants to refuse, but as he’s introduced to the life of a normal person, he finds his beliefs and morals forced into the spotlight and fiercely questioned. And as time goes on, it’s revealed that the Group may not be what it seems, and Seth and his friends will have to choose exactly whose side they’re on and what they’re fighting for.


What type of conflict do you see in the story? Give specific examples. Distinguish between major and minor conflicts.

The most major conflict will be man vs. man as killer fights killer to survive and reach the top. There will probably be quite a bit of fighting and strategizing as Seth and his friends discover the secret behind the Group, and try to survive as others are sent to kill them.

Another major conflict will also be man vs. himself. Seth’s beliefs and worldviews are challenged during his time with normal people, causing him to question himself and question his morals, and what his purpose in life really is. He has to fight with what he’s suppressed for so long, and as a perfectionist, he’ll have to battle with his conscience to accept himself.


State the main theme(s) or message of the story in universal terms that apply to everyone, regardless of age, race, or gender (1 complete sentence). Look for at least two themes.

-People are more than just barbarians trying to survive.

-Despite outer differences, people are quite similar on the inside.

-It’s okay to be vulnerable.

-You’re never too far gone.

Literary Devices

List at least three different examples of literary devices used in the story.

…well, I’m sure I’ll use quite a few metaphors and similes as I relate little things to Seth’s thought processes, though, and I’ll probably end up using personification at least once or twice.


Write a paragraph of your opinion of this story and why. Rate it as 1-5 stars, 5 being the best.

Obviously everyone hopes that their story will be worthy of the glorious five stars, but to be completely honest, I’m never satisfied with my own work. At the end of this, I’ll probably only end up rating it as three stars, if not lower. I’m hoping I can develop the characters enough for the audience to really relate to them and their struggles, and of course I want to make it interestingly and uniquely executed so that it doesn’t feel cliché. Yet doing it in the mind is always way easier than doing it on actual paper, so I guess we’ll just have to see.