a woman with a blindfold trailing behind her

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The cover for the bestselling novel GONE GIRL

GONE GIRL, published in 2012, is a mystery, thriller & suspense novel by Gillian Flynn. The movie was released in 2014.

GONE GIRL spent 8 weeks at #1 on the NYT Bestseller List. It’s estimated the novel sold more than 15 million copies worldwide by 2016.

“Okay.” I gave an angry shrug. “Do you need my sun sign too, or can we get started?”

GONE GIRL Synopsis

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

GONE GIRL Analysis Of:

Gone Girl is used as an example in the following posts. Check them out!

Past vs Present TenseA comparison of past vs present tense including modern fiction examples. Which is right for your novel?
Past TenseWriting a story in past tense is most common in genre fiction. Learn about 5 times to choose past tense.
Present TensePresent tense happens now. Check out 5 times it’s the best choice for your novel.
Rising ActionThe rising action is the period between the inciting incident and climax. Learn how to nail your rising action with these 4 elements.
Falling ActionThe falling action is an important part of your novel. Get it right with these 4 must-have elements.
the Main CharacterLearn the 3 required qualities of main character with modern fiction examples.
the SkepticLearn the importance of the skeptic character and their two roles. Plus, see modern fiction examples.

GONE GIRL Book Reviews

Gone Girl is a bit love or hate. I enjoyed it but it’s not something I would ever consider re-reading. And for me, that’s a bit of the standard.

Gone Girl loses all of it’s appeal once you know what happens. The writing itself? The characters? They’re all pretty meh. It’s the suspense of “what’s going on?” that drives interest in the book.

So if you haven’t read it (or seen the movie or heard what happens), give it a read.

Now that’s just my opinion. What do others think?

Gone Girl is one of the most ridiculous books I have ever read, one that comes with an inordinate amount of hype and disguised as a “clever”, “dark”, twisterific thriller that supposedly deals with serious shit like “when a marriage go bad”.

– The Book Smugglers

Gone Girl seems a divisive sort of read as a result, and largely relies on whether or not you can play along with the author’s theatrics.

– Cuddle Buggery

It is a dark, funny, intricately plotted and intelligently written fast-paced novel with enough twists and turns making it absolutely unputdownable stuff.

 – Youth Kiawaaz
a typewriter

Writing Practice

Check out these writing exercises and prompts inspired by GONE GIRL.

Prompt: The Opening Paragraph(s)

This is the opening paragraph of the novel. Ignore everything you know about the story and use it as a writing prompt.

Your Task: Using as much detail as possible, write another 300+ words.

Nick Dunne: The Day Of (Chapter 1)

When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.

I’d know her head anywhere.

Exercise: Rewrite

Choose any chapter – one you (at least mildly) dislike would probably be easiest.

Your Task: Rewrite your chosen scene (or at leas the first couple of pages) in the 3rd person (limited or omniscient) point of view.

Your Options:
 Change the scene however you want. Add or subtract details and information as you see fit.
 Leave the scene exactly as is, except the point of view
* The more you rewrite, the easier it will be to see any effects of point of view

Think about it:
 Which did you choose – limited or omniscient? Why?
 How does this change the feel of the work?
 Would you have preferred if the novel was written in 3rd person?
 What are the advantages and disadvantages to the choice of 1st person?

NOTE: *This is a great exercise to do with any piece of fiction to really get a feel for the differences in points of view and how they can change a novel.

Need an idea?

This could be a straightforward exercise. You don’t have to make any changes except the point of view.

When I made this drill initially (as a warm up for myself), I chose a Nick chapter. I didn’t like Nick, at all. So switching to 3rd person meant I could distance him a bit.

The first time I did this drill (because I’ve done it more than once), I did the beginning of chapter “Nick Dunne – 2 Days Gone.” I stopped at the dialogue.
Here’s an example of the first paragraph of that chapter.

GONE GIRLWriting Practice
I woke up on the pullout couch in the Elliotts’ suite, exhausted. They’d insisted I stay over—my home had not yet been reopened to me—insisted with the same urgency they once applied to snapping up the check at dinner: hospitality as ferocious force of nature. You must let us do this for you. So I did. I spent the night listening to their snores through the bedroom door, one steady and deep—a hearty lumberjack of a snore—the other gaspy and arrhythmic, as if the sleeper were dreaming of drowning.Nick woke up on the pullout couch in the Elliotts’ suite, exhausted. They’d insisted he stay over—his home had not yet been reopened to himinsisted with the same urgency they once applied to snapping up the check at dinner: hospitality as ferocious force of nature. You must let us do this for you. So he did. Nick spent the night listening to their snores through the bedroom door, one steady and deep—a hearty lumberjack of a snore—the other gaspy and arrhythmic, as if the sleeper were dreaming of drowning.

My thoughts:
– I chose Limited, but this paragraph alone isn’t enough to see that
– It feels less personal.
– I would have preferred to have Nick’s parts written in the third person – but that might be related more to my dislike of Nick and less to my preference for 3rd person

Exercise: Rewrite

The first chapter of Part 2, “Amy Elliott Dunne: The Day Of” we learn a lot about Amy. She’s giddy with excitement for having pulled off her own ‘murder.’

This chapter is a good blend of present and past tense. Amy is giving us the quick scoop about how it all started (past) but she’s obviously doing it now (present).

Your Task: Change it all to past tense. The whole chapter. You should keep it in 1st person – one challenge at a time!

Think About It:
 Why do you think Gillian Flynn chose to write in present tense?
 Which do you prefer – the original work or your rewrite?
 How did the change of tense affect the feeling of the work?
 Do you have a clearer idea of past and present tenses after this exercise?

Need an idea?

If you’re not sure how or where to begin, I’ll get you started:

GONE GIRLWriting Practice
I’m so much happier now that I’m dead.Technically, missing. Soon to be presumed dead. But as shorthand, we’ll say dead. It’s been only a matter of hours, but I feel better already: loose joints, wavy muscles.was so much happier once I was dead.Technically, missing. Soon to be presumed dead. But as shorthand, I said dead. In only a matter of hours, I felt better: looser joints, wavy muscles.
someone pulling on a heart on a fish hook


First Published
Jun 05, 2012
Print Length
(according to amazon)
434 pages
File Size
(according to amazon)
2,028 KB
Goodreads Rating
(As of Feb 2019)
Goodreads Rating for the novel Gone Girl
Amazon Rating
(As of Feb 2019)
Amazon Customer Rating for the novel Gone Girl
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GONE GIRL Thoughts?

Pin This: Book Review & Analysis of GONE GIRL

Have you read GONE GIRL?

If so, what did you think? If not, will you?

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PS. share your exercises in the comments below. I’d love to see them.


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