A monologue is a lengthy speech which some character performs. Initially, monologues belonged to the theater stages, and you can at once recall several “trademark” monologues. We meet them constantly in books, in movies, and TV-series.
A monologue is another speech, a close relative to the speeches which one performs on different occasions. However, these forms have a very important difference: a monologue is a piece of a story, and it aims to help the character to express himself or herself.
In many cases, monologues are the most essential means of understanding the character. The thing is, the audience won’t get other means of conceiving the situation than the words and actions, which might contradict each other. In this case, a monologue that represents the inner thoughts of the character can explain the actions.
To write a monologue you need to have great creative writing skills. And if you have this task and need information on how to write a great monologue, you surely have them. You are most likely a future writer, screenwriter or playwright.
How to Prepare to Write a Monologue
Before you start to write the monologue, you need to make some preparations. Like it is already mentioned, a monologue always belongs to a character, and it should have an addressee. Your character can address the monologue to another actor or himself or herself, or the audience. It has to reveal important information and it has to impress the audience. Monologues are always for the public.
To write a great monologue, you need to consider the following aspects:
- The context. Teachers may give you a task to write a monologue from scratch. However, a monologue can’t be without a context, and you need to create your own “bigger picture”. Think of the circumstances which made for this monologue. Consider the further impacts which that speech would produce on the character and the audience.
- The goal of the monologue. In most cases, writers use monologues to let their characters express true emotions or reveal true thoughts. It is a good means in case other options like direct actions or participation in dialogues can’t give the same effect.
- The character (speaker). You need to decide who your character is – his or her background, language, temper, and natural expressive means.
- The audience. Whenever you write a monologue for a book or a play, you target it to impress the readers or the spectators. That’s why you need to understand that audience. Think of the best “techniques” to channel the meaning of the speech. Investigate, whether your audience would react better to the emotions or the elegant phrases and paradoxes.
- The language. It is crucial to satiate the words and phrases with additional meanings so that they would touch the audience of many levels. Besides, it is a great “recipe” to make the monologue catchy and interesting.
- Examples. No matter if this is your first task to write a monologue, or you are already an experienced writer, it is always good to refer to the great examples. You can get inspiration from them or borrow some useful tips. However, you mustn’t copy other examples. First, the audience may be familiar with them, and this would hurt your reputation severely. Second, you need to develop your own voice, and this you can achieve by doing own works. You might use citations, though, or take some idea and develop your monologue referring or opposing it.
The Structure of a Monologue
A monologue is a part of a bigger story, but it is a story of its own as well. So, you need to write a monologue in the same way as you would do with a story. It needs to have a “three-parts” structure and consist of the beginning, the main part in the middle, and the end.
The beginning part of the monologue
Pay your special attention to the beginning, as it has to grasp the audience at once. Depending on the style of the monologue and its goal you may start it with some revelation, an intriguing fact which will encourage the audience to learn more, or a joke if your aim is a humorous monologue.
It is important to set the correct tone to the speech at once, as the rest of the monologue might either develop this theme or choose a different direction. Besides, the beginning part should represent the character and define the language and distinguishing features.
The middle part of the monologue
- The middle part of the monologue can have conflict and resolve it. Conflict is the best method of creative writing.
- You should create a plot line for this part of the monologue as a chain of particles which interact and lead the audience towards the climax.
- The climax is often a moment of some discovery that shows the character in a different light or accentuates some features. It should be a revelation for both the audience and other characters of the story.
- The revelation should affect the further course of action in the general plot.
- Consider how the present and the past should interact in the middle part. In many examples of monologues, the speakers refer to some events or emotional experiences from the past. These feelings may influence the current behavior and state of mind, and serve to reveal inner motives. If you want to build your monologue on the “past-present” interaction, deal with these ideas carefully. These reflections should be in balance and clearly affect each other.
- Ensure that the monologue will have suspense. The form is rather lengthy, and you need to ensure that your audience won’t get bored, that’s why you should work on the middle part plot line diligently. Create the story which would keep the audience asking for more. You can use some plot twists which turn the main line into a different direction, or intensify the emotional aspect or lead the audience little by little to the great discovery.
- Work on the wording of the text thoroughly. Your readers or spectators will only have the words to grasp the senses, thus, you need to choose and build phrases that will immerse the public in the story line of the monologue. The research on the audience which you did at the preparation stage will be the most helpful here. Your goal is to present the monologue in the best way to the public, so, choose the means which will appeal to your listeners.
- Check the authenticity of your text. There is no harm to refer to someone’s citations if you build an original story on them. If you cite someone to underline your point in the monologue, make sure not to overload your text with such phrases, even if your character is a great fan of the Old Latin aphorisms.
The ending part of the monologue
- The monologue needs a strong and logical ending. It has to conclude the events mentioned and thoughts expressed in the middle part.
- The character has to come to some turning point and get to the new stage, for example, make a very important decision or overcome some obstacle.
- The audience should understand how this conclusion will impact the plot of the story. For example, a neutral character decides to some side in a conflict, or some important information will be revealed or hidden.
Polishing the Monologue
Consider the length of the monologue. It is widely accepted that the ideal length for a monologue is around 1 minute, max a minute and a half. Read the text aloud and check how long it is. Remember that the length of the speech often determines the reaction of the audience. You may keep the monologue longer if you produce a rich text with the growing emotional tension and surprise your audience.
- Get rid of all weak or less important fragments which make the monologue seem overdone.
- While reading aloud pay special attention to the “sound” of the phrases. If there are awkward or confusing constructions, remove them mercilessly. Eliminate all words and phrases which seem unnatural for a character or don’t add anything to the personality.
- Paraphrase the long and complex sentences to make them easier for the audience.
- Check the vocabulary and make sure that the word choice matches the historical period, the circumstances, and the background of the character.
- Find yourself “beta-listeners” and read your monologue to them. It is the best possibility to investigate the potential reaction of the audience and get feedback.
Wiring a monologue can be a sophisticated task that requires a lot from the author. You need to possess writing skills and be familiar with the theory of drama. However, you would hardly lack these qualities if you chose to be a writer. And with the above tips and recommendations, you can write a monologue efficiently.