In the first part of Gone, the teacher in Sam’s and Quinn’s class vanished. This one weird incident is part of a huge supernatural event affecting thousands in the story, but we don’t know that yet. Why? Because the writer has started things small

In the next passage, Sam and Quinn have just met up with Gone’s third main character, Astrid. The same age as the boys, she’s smart enough to attend upper level classes. Not only has her teacher disappeared, but the rest of her class has, too. 

Take a look. 

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. 


So from one teacher to one class, the writer has increased the scope slowly. This is not just to build mystery and tension, but to also introduce the main characters and the group dynamics without the plot taking over.

It’s how people in a group interact with each other. In storytelling, it’s a good way to reveal character traits, show different points of view, and bring togetherness or conflict.

What does this passage tell you about the three characters and their relationship with each other?

It’s no accident there are three main characters - it’s a common way to tell stories. Usually two are ‘extreme’ personalities (Astrid and Quinn), while the third is the mediator (Sam).

If you look at it in really simple terms, Sam, Astrid, and Quinn follow a Lead-Think-Feel pattern. Astrid provides the knowledge, Quinn gives an emotional reaction, and Sam listens to both and usually decides what should be done. 

Other examples of this Lead-Think-Feel trinity include:

  • Harry, Hermione, and Ron (The Harry Potter Series) 
  • Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (Star Trek)
  • Frodo, Gollum, and Sam (The Lord of the Rings)
  • Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (DC Comics)
  • Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity (The Matrix films)
Before you continue, write down who your three characters are going to be and what they represent.

Let’s write our own version of this snippet.