High-concept storytelling in Gone 2: Meet the heroes

Keeping it small, looking for clues, meeting the characters


Let's put everything together in a checkpoint piece. Here's the original snippet:

Sam walked toward Astrid’s classroom. She and Quinn were right behind him.

The classroom was empty. Desk chairs, the teacher’s chair, all empty. Math books lay open on three of the desks. Notebooks, too. The computers, a row of six aged Macs, all showed flickering blank screens.

On the chalkboard you could quite clearly see “Polyn.”

“She was writing the word ‘polynomial,’” Astrid said in a church-voice whisper.

“Yeah, I was going to guess that,” Sam said dryly.

“I had a polynomial once,” Quinn said. “My doctor removed it.”

Astrid ignored the weak attempt at humor. “She disappeared in the middle of writing the ‘o.’ I was looking right at her.”

Sam made a slight motion, pointing. A piece of chalk lay on the floor, right where it would have fallen if someone were writing the word “polynomial”—whatever that meant—and had disappeared before rounding off the “o.”

“This is not normal,” Quinn said. 

GoneMichael GrantSource

Here are the examples we've been building:

Heidi-the-Grumpy-Checkout-Chick and Eve felt their way in the dark to the Service Desk to find a torch. Noah followed the groans and curses the other two made getting there. 

The path was filled with obstacles. He bumped into what felt like some discarded trolleys, a magazine rack, and a stand filled with small packets that scattered everywhere. 

They squeaked loud enough to drown out the shopping centre muzak when he stood on them.

“Hang on. We haven’t lost all the electricity if we can still hear the music. It must just be the light fuse that’s blown,” said Noah.

“Oh, you’re an electrician now?” Eve laughed.

“Your boyfriend’s a genius,” deadpanned Heidi.

“She’s not my… oh forget it,” Noah sighed, deflated. If Heidi-the-Grumpy-Checkout-Chick is dissing you, he thought, you know you’ve hit rock bottom.

“I dunno though,” Eve added. “The supermarket’s just one store. Is there just one lighting fuse for the whole shopping centre or does every shop have one?”

Noah imagined the manager of every store fumbling ‘out the back’ trying to remember where the fuse box was. Didn’t make sense. If the whole centre’s gone out at the same time, the blackout’s bigger than the shopping centre, he thought. 

“The blackout’s bigger than the shopping centre,” Heidi drawled. 

Trixie ground the tail of her skateboard on the steps outside her gran’s house while she waited for Bronwyn and Hunter to pump up their bike tyres.

The air felt humid. Her shirt and hair were already sticking to her skin. The sky was a weird orange, like sunset, but it was only 2pm. There were noises, but she couldn’t tell from what or where. They sounded like birds.

Something had crushed the rose bushes in Mrs Muller’s front yard.

“You should check that rose garden, Trix,” said Hunter. “If it’s a three-toed footprint, that’s evidence for a t-rex.”

“Trix and Trex,” Trixie said. “I’m not counting toe-prints. The evidence for a t-rex is seeing a t-rex twice. So let’s go. I’m waiting.”

“Ugh, this stupid valve thing!” said Bron, chucking her bike pump on the ground. “Hunter, can you do this for me?”

Hunter rolled his eyes and switched over to her bike.

“That print could help us track this thing. Tell us its direction of travel.”

Trixie balanced on her skateboard, staring. She imagined a t-rex just wandering down the street. How tall was it exactly? Tall enough to hit the power and phone lines overhead? Nothing looked out of place.

“It’s too hot!” yelled Bronwyn. “It’s never this hot. It shouldn’t be this hot. Is this climate change?”

And below is your version, joined together. You might need to delete some excess paragraph breaks.

Is there anything you want to edit? This is your last chance to make improvements before we conclude the lesson!

Do you:

  • have three characters investigating your strange event, looking at clues?
  • dialogue that shows the trio's personalities and group dynamics?
  • have your trio thinking about and reacting to the clues?
Your turn

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