Hi Simon.

Thanks for that contribution. I’ve just read your article with great interest.

It’s often the case that authors bolt on a prologue to mask a weak opening chapter. But the prologue is a standard and wholly acceptable convention in the thriller genre, so I’m not suggesting that was your motive. But for anyone else reading this, if you must have a prologue, make sure that your first chapter is still on form and could do all the heavy lifting without it. A good prologue should lead to the first chapter, not compensate for it.

I haven’t read your book — although I will pick up a copy — but my gut tells me I’d get on with your editor! Most of the interventions appear to have been about teasing out the main story, elaborating it, amplifying it, clarifying it, and cutting away anything that distracts from it. Subplots must justify themselves by reflecting, complimenting, enriching, or contributing to the main plot in a meaningful and necessary way.

Life is cluttered with the unnecessary. Fiction must be essential.

Thanks again, Simon. And I recommend anyone else reading this to check out Simon’s article.

Austin is a professional writer and editor. Skeptical about everything else, he believes in kindness. Here, he shares sensible advice for serious writers.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store