Discover How To Write A Monologue In 4 Simple Steps
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A monologue is a narrative device commonly used in literature and drama. Authors may use monologues to reveal important plot details, highlight minor characters or explore a character's inner world. Learning how to write a monologue can help you if you are writing a script for a theatre play, film or television production. In this article, we explain how to write a monologue, discuss the various types and provide some actionable tips to improve your monologue writing skills.
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What is a monologue?
A monologue is an extended passage of speech delivered by a single character that addresses the audience. This dramatic device can reveal additional information about the plot, the character's intentions or their emotional state. You can also use a monologue to fill in details from a character's backstory not otherwise mentioned in the script or reveal differences between what the character has expressed and what they truly think.
Monologues commonly appear in many dramatic productions, including stage plays and films. Literary fiction authors frequently use monologues to present a character's interior world from a first-hand perspective and information the audience cannot learn from dialogue or the general narrative. Monologues are simple in form but can require special attention when composing them, as the author cannot rely on action to retain the interest of the audience or reader. Writing in the first person helps convey the immediate perspective of the character and creates intimacy between the character and the audience.
How to write a monologue
Learning how to write a monologue is important because you can use a purposeful, impactful and focused monologue to great effect. Monologues can vary greatly in style and content and may employ striking imagery or unexpected vocabulary to catch the audience's attention or reveal a shocking or unexpected plot twist. The following steps may help guide you in writing an effective monologue:
1. Consider the structure
A monologue is most effective when it has a clear structure and scope. You can compose a passage that follows a rhythm and has a climax to keep the audience focused. Strong monologues usually build a sense of tension, which is important for preventing monotony when a single character speaks for an extended period. Here are the three sections of an effective monologue:
Consider what is happening in the story just before and after the monologue. You can help ensure a smooth transition by referencing something that just happened. For example, the character delivering the speech may respond directly to what another character said. In the case of a soliloquy, a climactic or traumatic event may be the catalyst for the character to begin an extended speech.
In the middle section of a monologue, it is important to maintain the audience's attention. You may consider adding an unexpected element in this section, either in the language or the content. You might want to include a striking image or use alliteration to make the speech fresh and surprising. You may also use this section to reveal an unexpected plot detail that significantly impacts the action that comes after. A character revealing a twist to the audience, unknown to the other characters, can create a strong feeling of dramatic tension.
The ending of a monologue can vary greatly depending on the type of passage it is and the context in which the character delivers it. A speech addressed to another character may end with a question or an invitation for the other character to speak. A monologue where a lone character is expressing his thoughts may end in ambiguity as the audience interprets what they have discovered about the character's emotions and motivations.
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2. Establish relevance to the storyline
Audiences are more likely to continue paying attention if it is clear they might learn something that is important to the story. You can choose to reveal new information to the audience or foreshadow a future event to keep them interested. Giving the audience a first-person account or perspective can help them empathise with the character and become more emotionally invested in the story.
3. Character motivation
Thinking about the backstory and personality of the character can help you ensure the content of the speech makes sense. Strong monologues are purposeful and focused, and the audience can ideally understand the character's intention when they read it or hear it performed. While writing the monologue, it is important that your word choices sound true to what your character feels and wants.
For example, when two characters are arguing in a play, a monologue may make it clear to the audience that one character is trying to convince the other they are right. In the case of a soliloquy, a monologue may give a character who is hiding something the chance to confess. The confession may either be to the audience or to relieve the tension but without the other characters hearing.
4. Character's voice
It is also important to consider the voice of the character delivering the monologue. Compositional choices in vocabulary, style and imagery can all affect the believability of a character. Ideally, the passage is convincing to the audience and is a true representation of that character's opinions or emotions.
Different types of monologues
Monologues can come in many forms, depending on the writer's intention. All monologues may reveal important information about a character's perspective, state of mind, memories or intentions.
The following are some of the most common types of monologues:
Dramatic: A dramatic monologue refers to any extended passage of speech delivered by a character to a second person. They commonly appear in all types of dramatic productions and fictional literature.
Soliloquy: A soliloquy is a type of monologue delivered by a lone character who speaks his thoughts aloud or addresses the audience. You may also find soliloquies in many types of television or film productions, but they appear most often in stage plays with the actor addressing the audience.
Interior: An interior monologue similarly expresses the inner thoughts and feelings of a character in written literature. An author may use this device to reveal a contrast between a character's inner thoughts and what he expresses to others or to describe memories of past events that help to inform the action of the plot.
Top tips to improve your monologue writing skills
Meticulous attention to detail can help separate a good monologue from an outstanding one. Limiting yourself to one major idea can help you produce a tightly focused, dynamic and exciting speech. Here are some additional tips that can help you refine your writing:
Brevity: Make sure your monologue is an appropriate length to ensure it includes everything you want to say but still retains the audience's interest. It can be helpful to revise the monologue once you have finished the initial writing stage and remove any sentences that do not fit the rhythm or add valuable information.
Placement: The placement of a monologue can also be very important in the flow of a story. Consider the overall rhythm of your narrative and determine where your character's speech makes sense and is most impactful.
Details: Since there are no other distractions, such as dialogue or action, competing for the audience's attention, you can spend some time refining the language of your monologue. There is no reason to use overly complicated language if that is not how the character would normally speak, but you can choose your words carefully to ensure each sentence has a purpose and furthers the dramatic intention of the monologue.
Observation: It can get easier to compose monologues with regular practice, but you can also study existing examples to find out what makes an effective and memorable speech. You could keep a notebook with examples to refer to while you write and categorise them according to the type of text or character profile.
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