Hello! I’m planning a spiritual fantasy novel and would love some feedback on the plot and the character development.
Since it’s a fantasy novel, I would also love to know if you have any question about the world, e.g. how does this spell work or what is the difference between mystic item 1 and mystic item 2.
Also, since I’ll be using Chinese terms, I’m just wondering whether Pinyin or Wade-Giles is usually preferred. This pitch uses Pinyin, but I want to know what the standard is.
Finally, I would love to know whether you would read it.
Title: A Monk’s Journey
(Title pending: feel free to drop suggestions and justifications!)
Logline: In a fictional Chinese-Warlord-Era-like world, Tuhu (or Butcher), a monk and retired infamous soldier, falls into a crack in the ground and lands in Hell. To get back to the Mortal Realm, he has to follow the spirit of the last child he killed.
Summary of less than 500 words (including major plotlines/arcs to conclusion):
During the final battle, Tuhu (Butcher) and other soldiers loot and massacre a village landlord’s home. After killing the landlord’s five-year-old daughter, Tuhu takes the girl’s jianzi, a toy that he has never played with as a child.
After the war, Tuhu feels empty, quits the army, sells his possessions, and wanders aimlessly until he has no more money. He meets a monk who convinces him to become a monk too.
During a stroll as a monk in a forest, Tuhu is blinded by fog. When the fog disappears, Tuhu is in a desert. A crack then splits the ground. Tuhu falls and lands in a strange place.
He meets a spirit who tells him that he is in Hell. Since he is still alive, he needs to return to the Mortal Real by crossing a portal before the Dead find and devour him, making future reincarnation impossible.
Some Dead find them. Tuhu realizes that he doesn’t want to ‘disappear’ forever and feels afraid for the first time. The spirit helps him escape, leading him to a pile of bones with a name of one of Tuhu’s victims on each of them. Tuhu reconstructs a skeleton. After the spirit puts some of Tuhu’s qi in it, the skeleton becomes the landlord’s daughter, who knows the way to the portal and plans to reincarnate through it.
She asks Tuhu to replace her family since he killed hers and takes Tuhu’s silence as agreement. During their journey, they discuss about their lives and experience mundane events of Life such as scavenging and cooking. The girl’s innocent, enthusiastic character makes Tuhu appreciate the fragility of life. Her brief but passionate life makes him realize how meaningless his life has been. Since he was born, he only followed others’ plans for his life and has become a mindless machine.
The duo is attacked by some Dead who wound the girl. Her qi starts to slip out from the cut. Before they can get to the portal, the girl loses all her qi. Before she returns to a skeleton, she makes Tuhu promise to bury her jianzi in her home’s yard.
Tuhu crosses the portal and wakes up in the desert. Two rebel soldiers ask him to join their army. They explain that the only way to enter the landlord’s house, now occupied by the tyrannical enemy warlord, is by defeating him. They baptize Tuhu “Shaseng” (the Desert Monk) because he cannot remember his original name (see Extra notes below).
Shaseng joins the rebel army to fulfill the girl’s ‘dying’ wish. After months of war, the rebels defeat the enemy army. Shaseng and some soldiers attack the landlord’s home, where the warlord is hiding. Shaseng kills the warlord, who was his superior. Lethally wounded, Shaseng buries the jianzi in the yard, under a peach tree.
After he closes his eyes, he is back in Hell. The Dead approach him. Instead of running away, Shaseng lets the Dead devour his qi for their reincarnation.
Intended audience: older audience for mature content (war, blood, and violence). No restriction apart from this. The book can be enjoyed as either an entertainment or a more serious read.
Genre: fantasy, spiritual fiction, action, adventure, war fiction, xuanhuan (?)
Length: depends on plot adjustments but this will be a novel (more than 40 000 words)
What makes the story unique? I would say that it’s unique in that it’s some sort of Divine Comedy X Chinese Warlord Era. I’m curious. What do you find unique?
- In this story, there are three realms: Heaven, Hell, and the Mortal Realm. Heaven is for gods and immortals. Everyone goes to Hell when they die. Rather than the Christian Hell, where bad people go, this Hell is simply the realm of the Dead.
- qi is the vital energy. Living beings have qi. In this story, when a person dies, they maintain their qi, but it dissipates as they wander in Hell to the point that they have not enough to return to the Mortal Realm or to reincarnate. So, they try to take the qi of newcomers.
- Only souls that deserve reincarnation (the innocent or redeemed ones) will see the path to the portal.
- Tuhu isn’t the character’s original name, but a nickname arising from a misunderstanding. It’s not mentioned in the summary, but before joining the army, Tuhu was a butcher. As he got used to his nickname, Tuhu forgot his original name.
- Jianzi is a toy similar to a heavy shuttlecock.