Confusion in The Fall
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Confusion in The Fall
When you read The Fall, you enter Madeline Usher’s mind. Madeline Usher is mad, she’s confused, she’s prone to fits, her entire life is a centered around the struggle to make sense of what’s going on around her, both in the house of Usher and in her head. From first draft, my goal in the Fall is for the reader to feel off-balanced, to experience life as Madeline sees it.
Don’t expect her story to be an easy read. If you feel confused, then you’ve felt a little, a fraction, of what Madeline experiences.
The story is told in bursts of memory. Madeline is in the coffin. Her life is flashing before her eyes. In each scene there is a memory trigger, so in one scene there might be a mention of the pocket watch, in the next, whether it goes forward in time or back, if the pocket watch is the trigger, it will be in the next scene, the connection between that scene and the next might be a room, or a person, a comment, or another object, but each scene is connected in Madeline’s mind.
Each age does proceed chronologically, so once you read something in Madeline’s 9th year, you will not read something that happened previously when she was 9 years old. I have a very detailed calendar, which includes each year of the story, and when WITHIN that year the events take place, to be sure that the time of year details (leaves falling, spring, etc) is correct. I also have a chronological and color coded version of the book to be sure that every event happens chronologically, even though their introduction (in the book version) may not be chronological. In reading the book the reader should be off balance, things should be odd, and later you realize where they came from or what significance they have.
If you try to impose logic on Madeline’s world, you may end up as frustrated as she is. There are rules to Madeline’s world, but she doesn’t fully understand them, so it’s possible the reader won’t understand, either. The book was very carefully planned and organized, over several years, and dozens of drafts. That doesn’t mean that all readers will like it, or even that they should, every reader is different and comes to each book with different expectations and desires.
Oh, and one last thing, there are no chapters in The Fall. There are scenes, and each one is numbered and starts with Madeline’s age. I’m sorry that Kindle and other e-readers choose to label the scenes as chapters, but that isn’t something I have any control over. J