So we all know the reputation wuxias have for repetitive plots.
Been thinking about it a bit recently, and I think I’ve located the problem in their writing that causes this – a failed attempt at a chiastic structure. For those of you who don’t know chiastic (or “ring”) structure is an ancient and somewhat cyclical structure reminiscent of poetry used everywhere from the texts of the Abrahamic faiths, the Odyssey, the Illiad, and even the Hobbit (to name a few). It follows a pattern of callbacks, or even repeated events to draw the reader into the story. It is easy to see the attempt at this wuxia authors make, but issues arise with how frequently the inner cycles are executed without real progress being made for the main character – that is, the inner cycles that are being repeated serve no or limited narrative purpose that is never rewarded to the audience.
Imagine and MC that constantly goes to a new place, offends some young master, gets challenged by that young master, then kills the young master, then repeat (who am I kidding, you’ve probably read that plot so just remember, don’t imagine 😊). This structure doesn’t inherently make for a bad story, but it’s missing a few things that make it easy to tire of. The MC does not make any progress from this encounter – no treasure gained, no enemy made (as would be the case in a truer chiastic), no lesson learned. The MC has not gone anywhere for his troubles, he is exactly where he started – just with new paint. He doesn’t even remember the encounter. This is by far the biggest issue with the writing – a betrayal of the reader, a broken promise.
Adding some meaning to each of the encounters would allow readers to be drawn into the story. Well, there’s some other issues and fixes that could be done – but there’s a chap for you to read, so bye!
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