High-concept storytelling in Gone 1: Big concept, small beginnings

Big concept, small set up


Compilation of covers form the Gone series

Gone is an action adventure story (first in a series) about a massive, supernatural event that affects an entire region—thousands of people. 

With that (slightly spoiler-ish) knowledge, read the opening passage from the story below. 

One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone.


No “poof.” No flash of light. No explosion.

Sam Temple was sitting in third-period history class staring blankly at the blackboard, but far away in his head. In his head he was down at the beach, he and Quinn. Down at the beach with their boards, yelling, bracing for that first plunge into cold Pacific water.

For a moment he thought he had imagined it, the teacher disappearing. For a moment he thought he’d slipped into a daydream.

Sam turned to Mary Terrafino, who sat just to his left. “You saw that, right?”

Mary was staring hard at the place where the teacher had been.

“Um, where’s Mr. Trentlake?” It was Quinn Gaither, Sam’s best, maybe only, friend. Quinn sat right behind Sam. The two of them favored window seats because sometimes if you caught just the right angle, you could actually see a tiny sliver of sparkling water between the school buildings and the homes beyond.

“He must have left,” Mary said, not sounding like she believed it.

Edilio, a new kid Sam found potentially interesting, said, “No, man. Poof.” He did a thing with his fingers that was a pretty good illustration of the concept.

Kids were staring at one another, craning their necks this way and that, giggling nervously. No one was scared. No one was crying. The whole thing seemed kind of funny.

GoneMichael GrantSource
Your turn

This passage takes a big concept and starts small. Really small.

  • One part of the event.
  • One class.
  • One victim.
  • Through the eyes of one person: the Hero

Let’s look at how Gone builds the action from a single, weird incident to a full riot in a single chapter, starting with this snippet.

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