The creative element

(A further continuation of my previous discussions on the literary docu-memoir form as I use it in my own work …)

In my literary docu-memoir, as the writer, I attempt to create “colour” to give the work a cinematic quality to highlight the effect of affect in the stories. Ivan Magrin-Chagnolleau posits that the use of “colour” in theatre and film can produce multiple effects that influence audience emotional response (Magrin-Chagnolleau 2013, pp. 1-5). With literary works, all a writer has to create “colour” are words and the imagery suggested by contextual placement of these words, and perhaps images such as photographs that may appeal to the viewer on an affective level.

In my work, in an attempt to achieve and heighten the effect of affect, I use words and imagery and photos in conjunction. I use black and white and grey tones for illustrations and photos that refer the reader to the subjects’ past lives, and colour tones for photos that refer the reader to the subjects in the present day.

As well, without touching the verbatim and edited transcript material in the work, in the more creative sections of the work—the creatively worked but nevertheless true story that frames the selections of transcript material into a whole—I try to marshal the affective thread in these people’s stories and harness it to the imagery suggested in the framing narrative, and then braid this into the narrative thread that I weave throughout the work.

As I see it, this is the creative element in my work of creative nonfiction.

I will offer G–‘s three gardens as an illustration of what I have tried to do in this latter regard. G–‘s gardens really do exist, and are as I describe them in my book. One of these gardens has a strange fairy-tale atmosphere. In actuality, and so in my book, I find it fascinating and somewhat appealing, but equally, in real life and so in my literary docu-memoir, G– describes it as a “mess.”  Likewise, another of the gardens is a wasteland and has an eerie foreboding quality that does my head in, and the other, G–‘s narrow back garden, provides the viewer with sharp contrasts of deep shadow and unreal light when the late afternoon sun angles obliquely down.  My intention is to show these gardens slant, as real but not real, and as somehow a reflection of G– emotional experience or state. In much the same way, in the story of my visit, I am me and not me—I am the interviewer-writer in the work, and I am also the literary docu-memoirist in fact, and who in the story wears a fictional cloak.

Works cited

Magrin-Chagnolleau, Ivan. “The Use of Color in Theater and Film.” Conference. Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. 8-12 July, 2013. Address. Web. 6 July 2014.

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