The modern wuxia stories are basically adventure stories set in ancient China. The plots of wuxia stories vary from writer to writer, but there are distinct similarities between wuxia protagonists and characters from the modern Western fantasy genre. The fantasy element is not a prerequisite of a wuxia story and it is possible for a wuxia story to be realistic and link to historical events.
Themes of romance are also strongly featured in several wuxia stories. The protagonists of most wuxia stories usually have beautiful maidens to accompany them on their adventures and the story usually concludes like a fairy tale, where the protagonist and his love interest are married and live happily ever after. These type of stories aim to women readers, of cource. But romantic wuxia stories, which are more dramatic and tragic with sad ending, are not so less. Lovers can not be together, and both or either of them die.
A typical wuxia story’s plot features a young male protagonist who experiences a tragedy such as losing his loved ones. He undertakes several trials and tribulations throughout his adventures and learns several forms of martial arts from various fighters. At the end of the story, the protagonist emerges as a powerful fighter whom few can equal. He uses his abilities to follow the code of xia and offers them chivalrously to mend the ills of the jianghu.
Other stories may use different structures. For instance, the protagonist is denied being accepted as a student of a martial arts sect. He experiences hardships and trains secretly and waits until there is an opportunity for him to show off his skills and surprise those who had initially looked down on him. Some stories feature a mature hero with powerful martial arts abilities confronting an equally powerful antagonist as his nemesis. Or he is ambushed by his enemies, then he is saved by friends, and after some severals trials and tribulations throughout his adventures, he take vengeance on them. The plot will gradually meander to a final dramatic showdown between the protagonist and his nemesis. These types of stories were prevalent during the era of anti-Qing revolutionaries.
Certain stories also have unique plots, such as those by Gu Long and Huang Yi. Gu Long’s stories have an element of mystery and are written like detective stories. The protagonist, usually a formidable fighter and intelligent problem-solver, embarks on a quest to solve a mystery such as a murder case. Huang Yi’s stories are blended with science fiction.