My chemistry readership is used to thinking in terms of reaction mechanisms. Those of you outside the field who've gone as far as organic chemistry will have come across them, too: pushing electrons for fun and profit. Chemists really do think in those terms, I can tell you - it's not just something they torture the sophomores with.
Here's a page with some good examples of classic mechanisms. (Update: that link may not be able to handle the attention. Other mechanism pages can be found here and here, and there's a well-done Flash site here.) Non-chemists will note mainly the profusion of curved arrows curling around the page, and wonder what we must be getting out of that stuff. The idea, though, is that chemical reactions involve bonds between atoms breaking, forming, and rearranging, and those bonds are formed through electrons. So most of what goes on in organic chemistry can be thought of - very successfully - as the movement of electrons, and that's what the mechanisms are showing schematically.
But reaction mechanisms are also one of the things that chase people out of the field completely as students. The problem is, the lazy way to teach an organic chemistry course is as a Huge Heap of Reactions, to be memorized and tested on. Buy while there's no way around learning and understanding these things, teaching them as if they were species names in zoology is a crime.
There's an easier way, which more competent professors point out. The thing is, electrons don't just zip around randomly. They're negatively charged, so they prefer to go toward things with positive charges and away from other negatively charged ones. The various chemical elements can be more electron-withdrawing or electron-donating, so that means that any bond between two different ones is likely to be an unequal affair. The electrons are going to settle more on the end of the bond that's pulling on them, giving it a bit of a negative charge, and leaving the other end with a bit of a positive one. If you can keep track of full and partial charges, which isn't that hard, you're a long way toward solving any mechanism that a test can throw at you.
That page I linked to has some carbonyl (carbon-double-bond-oxygen) mechanisms, and I'm telling you the truth: the few things on that page are the foundation of umpteen dozen reaction mechanisms, which means that you have a choice when you're studying organic: you can memorize the whole shaggy list, or you can learn the fundamentals and apply them over and over in different combinations. Why anyone would do it the hard way escapes me.
But I've seen people take on a lot of tasks that way. When I was in high school, we still had to memorize and recite poems - not especially good ones, stuff like Longfellow's "The Builders" and the end of William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis", poems fit to give Aaron Haspel the shakes, but poems nonetheless. (Good to see that he seems to be blogging again, by the way). And I recall one guy standing up to take on one of these set pieces, and as I listened to him slowly, haltingly stumble through it ("So. . .live. . .that. . .when-thy. . .summons. . . comes-to. . .join. . ."), my opinion of his skills evolved. At first, I thought that he was terrible at memorizing a poem. And, well, I still thought that when he finished, which was quite a while later. But what I came to realize was that he was a lot better than I was at memorizing a long string of random words, which is what he'd reduced "Thanatopsis" to. He went through all the commas, all the phrases like a snowplow. None of it meant anything; it just had to be shifted by brute force. And that's how he did it, and how some chemistry students do it still. It doesn't have to be that way.