What Would You Do With The Hanging Man?

I thought of this the other day and can’t seem to get it out of my head.

Imagine writing a scene where a character intends to commit suicide.

He is emotionally at the end of his rope.

He sees no other way out.

So he makes his way to a rooftop.

Gathering all his resolve, he takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and runs at full speed towards the edge.


As he is about to plunge into nothingness, a piece of rebar along the broken edge snags his pants leg. He swings in a graceless arc and hits the side of the building, hard. The leg snagged by the rebar is painfully twisted. The opposite leg and hip, taking the full impact with the wall, are shattered.

Now he hangs, almost stationary, like an awkward chrysalis. Racked with pain, helpless, terrified, his resolve for suicide crumbles, but too late. When he hears the fabric tear, he screams for help from an unhearing world.

So what happens next?

Does he get saved somehow? Does a roving gang use him for target practice? Does he cut his losses, jerk himself loose, and fall to his death? Does he fall, but not die? And if he does survive, why?

A man literally hanging by a thread is a great inspiration for a story, wouldn’t you think? This, after all, is the essence of horror. It’s the reader’s understanding that at any moment something terrible is going to happen. And secretly, deep down inside, you want it to.

The hanging man might be a main character, a secondary character, or someone alluded to by one of the other characters. No matter what, he must have a back story. He must have had some circumstances that drove him over the edge.

And there must be something that follows.

When I wrote Any Tomorrow, I started out with the simple idea of a man trapped underground when the world comes to an end. That simple idea grew into thousands of words and a story that spans the globe over the course of a thousand years. More importantly, the character I originally envisioned as the focus was subsumed by another character who grew to dominate the story.

So what would you do with the hanging man?

How would you explain his circumstances?

What would you do with his story?

Why don’t you drop me a line and let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.


About Kevin_Fraleigh

I am a novelist, and much of my writing is predicated on the concept that within each of us is a hole. For some of us, the hole is a divot, shallow and insignificant. But for many of us the hole is a cavern, deep and expansive. We try to fill it with sex or drugs or religion, but the cavern has an insatiable appetite. This is where the dark things live―the things that fill our nightmares. The things that claw at our minds. The things that inspire the stories of horror, madness, and twisted realities. From the depths of that cavern come the seeds of my stories. Won’t you join me in the dark edges of reality? Learn more about me from my blog at anytomorrow.wordpress.com. You can find my novels at amazon.com, smashwords.com, and most eBook retailers. You can also read some of my full length short stories at http://www.wattpad.com/user/Kevin_Fraleigh
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One Response to What Would You Do With The Hanging Man?

  1. ben Surbana says:

    Your post reminds me of the “Hanged Man” of Tarot.

    http://media.photobucket.com/user/Najwalaylah/media/Tarot/a8aaa660.png.html?filters%5Bterm%5D=hanged man tarot&filters[primary]=images&filters[secondary]=videos&sort=1&o=0

    The man, hanging from a thread, would do well to take Jacob Boheme’s advice:

    “Walk in all things contrary to the world.”

    The human soul must undergo a reordering of inward priorities in order to be liberated from suffering and despair.

    If it were the story I would write, the man would discover that he was dreaming his suicide attempt, and, upon awakening, then take Jacob Boeme’s advice. This would effectively end his old life and give him a new one….

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