Dragon Princess – Chapter 67

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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6 thoughts on “Dragon Princess – Chapter 67”

  1. I had been thinking a little about this idea since the last post and it seems like it’s a general trope in Asian web/light novels in general not just the fighting/cultivation novels, where you have a similar/ recurring obstacle that the MC never actually deals with and always locks the characters character in a default condition.

    Fighting novels, fighting the obnoxious (young master/villainous gambler/ yakuza what have you)

    Heroic quest novels (farming / grind) that really doesn’t do much of anything except give you a chance too look at the loot and reinforce the idea that the hero “IS GETTING STRONGER”

    Secret King stories. The MC is always going to absurd lengths to conceal themselves even when there is no point to it.
    Reid/Nicole from Hero’s Daughter, Ren from Reincarnated, Mile from “I said make my abilities average”. Mater of fact the last three are degenerate cases to such an extent they are also part of “MC can’t stop destroying their own lives”

    There’s also the really disturbing humiliation/bullying massive betrayal theme that seems pop up a fair amount. You have the MC winding up with everyone around them both betraying and doing frankly unconcionable things to them repeatedly. The cast out from the family, insane levels of school bullying (Just how bad is that in Japan ??? The matter of fact way it’s presented is rather chilling), society is against them scenarios, come to mind. In this case you ten only to have it for awhile in the beginning until it shifts to another recurring trope.

    When I first replied I thought of this whole process as an authors way of padding their novel, since their doesn’t seem to anything driving the market to reasonably sized stories that can be completed in a human lifetime. I have revised that opinion to “in most cases but in some this technique can be used to illuminate the nature of the characters”. If done well it’s a slower but much more organic way to reveal a character’s character.

        1. I don’t see it at all. That’s using email + name on a desktop, WP account on a desktop, and email + name on tablet.

    1. Demonstrating the nature of the character can be done with chiastic as well – my point was more so that most wuxias fail to do so. Demonstrating their power might work, but is often poorly implemented – after all, the new young master they face is introduced basically when he insults the MC, so we reader has limited knowledge of how strong he actually is

      1. Do you remember the television series Kung Fu ? Starred David Carradine back in the 70s. It’s a similar concept, you have a chinese/american kung fu master wander around the old west. There was the nominal McGuffin of him searching for family (father/brother I forget, and it really was unimportant anyway). The show was actually about him going to a town every week and getting into the same fight (give or take) as last week and then moving on. You would also get recollections of his life as a monk in China.

        Point being, if you have a genre that’s about fighting, maybe the fights themselves are the important part ?

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