Grand Design - Fantasy (tw s*icide)

// two suicides occur in the description below

Genre: Fantasy
Audience: New Adult
Length: ~20K


Successful cardiac surgeon Marcus is visited by the devil/personified sin, Ira, years after trading his heart to cure his severe anxiety. Ira asks Marcus to make good on his trade, but Marcus refuses. Ira returns Marcus’ heart and with it, his severe anxiety. As a result, Marcus is unable to function and eventually goes back to Ira to make good on the promise.

Ira requires Marcus’ heart to be pure, meaning all of Marcus’ actions must be motivated by anxiety alone. As a test of his heart’s purity, Ira takes Marcus home to his abusive parents. The abuse quickly leads to a panic attack and Marcus begs Ira for an escape. Ira gives Marcus the choice of leaving—through the means of murdering his parents. Marcus refuses to kill his parents, but does so out of fear when his father attacks him and Ira assists him in killing his mother.

Ira’s brother Avaritia visits Marcus, wanting him to betray Ira by giving his heart to Avaritia instead. Out of both cowardice and love for Ira, despite knowing Ira will sacrifice him, Marcus refuses and Avaritia lets him be. Ira returns and talks Marcus into suicide in order for him to reach Heaven. Marcus ends up in Purgatory, where he’s guided by Gabriel in order to become absolutely pure of heart. Gabriel takes his heart and erases his personality. Once he’s allowed into heaven, Ira follows him to rescue him shortly before the battle heaven and hell begins.

On Earth, Marcus’ fianceé is made to deal with an overload of patients as abnormal natural disaster begin to strike. She returns to broken, untidy home where nothing has been the same since Marcus left and he died alongside his parents. She overdoses, and Marcus possesses her body to return to Earth. Marcus focuses on getting to Ira, the cause of the natural disasters. Avaritia appears once more to have his heart in exchange for allowing him reach Ira. Marcus gives Avaritia his heart and gains the ability to seek out Ira.

Marcus, using his fianceé’s corpse, finds Ira in the midst of an earthquake, battling the final angel. Marcus uses his new mortal body as a shield against the angel and Ira is able to defeat the angel, gaining its power. Ira attempts to stop Marcus from dying by taking his heart once again, but Marcus already gave it to Avaritia. Marcus dies in Ira’s arms and Avaritia kills Ira, gaining the strength of all the angels Ira has defeated and Ira himself. The story ends when Avaritia leaves to challenge God.


I do not understand or follow this plotline. I don’t know if I’m able to make a solid critique of it because I do not understand it. I don’t know if that’s a function of how it’s written or the plot or me missing something. I’ll put down some questions:

Marcus traded away his heart for anxiety relief. It is entirely unclear what the heart is in this case. Literal heart? Is he immortal? Or Ira is saying he wants his life eventually? Also when Ira comes calling for the heart and he refuses, Ira just gives back the anxiety so Marcus got away with a penalty free trade for some period of time? Why would Ira do that…?

The additional layer of Marcus requiring his heart to be pure makes additionally even less sense. Why would Ira need the heart to be pure but already agreed to take it? Why would he pick someone who didn’t already have a pure heart?

I have a lot more questions after this, at basically every line in the summary. Plot elements come and go almost at random, the major consequences are unclear of any particular action, the rules of the world are very unclear and the story seems to depend on understanding them, and there is no major consistent theme throughout the plot (is it about anxiety? the afterlife? heaven v hell? challenging god?).

Without a better understanding, I don’t think I can really comment on the construction of the plot.


I would gently agree with the above, and add that I feel like this doesn’t have a primary conflict… there are things that could fit there, I think, and right now I’m struggling to put the pieces into a plotline. Like Nick says, things just keep happening. What’s the major plot conflict?


@nick @yvesdot i think it’s best coherently framed as something as a dark satirical romance, considering much of it focuses solely on the relationship between marcus and ira and marcus’ dependence on ira.

the rule is basically that if a personified sin takes your literal heart, they can give you something life changing in return and if the personified sin has the heart, then the person who gave it must make due on the personified sin’s desires lest they lose that life-changing thing. additionally, not having said literal heart doesn’t negate death unless that heart was traded for immortality or something similar.

the whole concept behind pure hearts is that pretty much nobody has them, because a heart is only pure if the actions of a person are motivated by a single emotion or desire throughout the person’s life, so pure hearts are rare/near non-existent. ira is basically forcing marcus to get a pure heart by turning that single emotion/desire into anxiety and as long as marcus is far too cowardly to fight it, the heart stays pure.

the major consequence is mainly just the deaths caused by marcus’ cowardice and resultant near gratuitous panic.

i think the overarching theme would have to be religion as in, a set of rules vigorously followed in spite of the damage said rules might cause.

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