After I lost a large segment of my novel, I started writing a prequel to it.

I began it differently from the original, planning on this story being one of five shorter stories published as one volume. Surprise, surprise, the characters have other plans. This is evolving into a prequel novel.

In my original novel, the reader meets the MC behind the scope of his sniper’s rifle - it is a training run. In the prequel, I begin with him fleeing after a successful operation, but everything else has gone sideways. I was content with that, but then something my MC said gave my Secondary Protagonist a mystery to solve.

She needs to investigate and this will take time. I already have fifty pages and that is not looking like a short story anymore.

I now believe that I should, as with the first, start with the assassination and show the wheels fall off.

Would starting with the assassination scene add symmetry and balance to the prequel and render it more of a stand-alone novel or is the scene with his flight and references to what happened before sufficient?

  • It's like poetry, it rhymes. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 18:48

2 Answers 2


In a sequel, I'd say the options are to mirror the original, or completely subvert the original. A James Bond film always begins in media res with a big action sequence, while each is a different scenario they all, more or less, follow a pattern. One film attempted to subvert the pattern, but it was still a big action sequence so it was more of a nod to fan expectations (George Lazenby breaks the 4th wall and says "This never happened to the other guy!").

In a prequel, I think the issue is to avoid undermining the original's opening. That probably means you can't subvert the original, but when mirroring you also shouldn't top the original.

start with the assassination and show the wheels fall off.

This seems correct. If he is a professional assassin, and typically things go wrong, these openings establish why it is a dangerous job. Like the Bond films, I'd make all the details as different as possible but try to capture the manic in media res action.

  • The original starts with a successful practice run, the prequel with an assassination that has left him no escape. Might that steal some thunder from the original or will everything going wrong be enough of a difference? No escape, everyone knows his description so nowhere to hide in plain sight
    – Rasdashan
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 21:29

No. At least not for the sake of symmetry. Only do so if you think it serves the story.

The slavish adherence to symmetry dogma is not only bad (unrealistic) storytelling, it isn't even a very compelling story structure.

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