Writing a story isn't all that different from making a cabinet. The difference? Your tools. Believe it or not, making a story requires tools. I don't mean hardware like computers, keyboards, pens and paper. That's more or less your construction materials. I mean your software: plot, characterization, and conventions.
As a new feature, each Tuesday I'll highlight a trope, a figure of speech, something in literature and film that is easily identifiable and commonly used without being cliche, so long as it is not absurd or overused. Knowing what tropes are has helped me understand the building blocks of developing a good story. Hopefully you'll find learning about tropes to be just as helpful.
Take the picture above for our first example. Nathan Drake from Uncharted is dangling for his life.
This is a fitting example of a Literal Cliffhanger. Is hanging by one hand what makes this picture gripping? Look at the debris below him and the gun he dropped. This is known as the Plummet Perspective. This adds tension by showing you just how dire the situation is and how terrible Nathan's fate will be if he lets go.
Is this cliche? If done right, not at all. It's used quite often and is usually effective, especially if we care about the character (Luke dangling under Bespin? Frodo clinging above the fires of Mordor?). However, the Literal Cliffhanger is so common that inventing new ways to portray it has made it tougher to be original.
But it can be done! Like all building blocks, the possibilities are endless.
For more on tropes, check out my source.
Have you ever used a Literal Cliffhanger or a Plummet Perspective in your writing? Intentional or accident? What have you read/seen that uses this trope?
I'm David, and where's a good place to hang out?