You may have heard the term “monologue” and thought it was just a fancy word for “dialogue.” But while they do share certain similarities, there are key differences between them. For example, monologues are often written in first person while dialogues are typically performed by more than one character. But what makes a good monologue? How long should it be? And how do you write one if you’re not a playwright or an actor? We’ve got all the answers right here!
A step-by-step guide to writing a monologue
A monologue is a piece of writing that allows you to express your thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. It can be used as comedy, drama, poetry or even song lyrics.
The first step when writing a monologue is to decide what it’s about. You may want to write about something that happened in your life or something you’re passionate about. Your topic doesn’t have to be serious but if it isn’t interesting then people aren’t going to bother reading it! If they do read it though they should find themselves entertained by what they’ve read so keep that in mind while planning out your piece (or pieces).
1. Knowing where to start
A monologue is a speech by a single character, usually performed as part of an acting exercise. It can also be used in fiction writing to add depth and dimension to your characters. Here are some steps you can take when writing one:
- Know what it’s about — A monologue should be focused on one subject, whether that’s the main character’s personality or their relationship with others in the story.
- Know who says it — You’ll also want to decide whether this is spoken by another character or your main narrator (the person telling the story). The latter may appear in other parts of the work but not have any dialogues with anyone else, so knowing this will help inform how long and complex the speech should be.
- Know where it happens — This isn’t necessary for every scene but if there are multiple locations within your story such as different rooms at home or offices at work then consider mentioning them here so readers become aware of when they’re passing from one place into another without losing track of time or place during reading sessions).
2. The two types of monologues you should know about
There are two types of monologues:
- One author addressing a crowd. This is not just a speech, but also an interaction with the audience. For example, when you watch Shakespeare’s soliloquies in Hamlet and Macbeth, he is talking to himself onstage so that the audience can understand what he is experiencing. However, these speeches are meant to be heard by everyone in the theater at once—so it’s like having one person talk to many people at once.
- One author addressing an audience of one person who may or may not actually be there. This type of speech is rarer because it’s less likely for an author to write something that doesn’t actually have any listeners (unless it’s a poem). But if this does happen then there will usually be some kind of stage direction along with dialogue so that we know exactly who this character has chosen for their conversation partner: “I need to tell someone this,” or “I will never speak again.”
The reason why these two types exist comes down to how each type affects our perception of reality versus fiction through language use alone—and how both types differ greatly from each other even though they’re both still considered monologues!
3. Making yourself comfortable to write
When you’re ready to write, find a place where you can concentrate. If possible, avoid noisy surroundings and close the door. Turn off your cell phone and put it in another room if it’s too tempting to pick up and check social media.
Next, eliminate any potential distraction by turning off any music or television shows you have playing in the background. Don’t worry—you’ll be able to turn these things on again once the monologue is written!
Finally (and most importantly), make sure that you have enough time set aside for writing without being rushed or interrupted. If necessary, block out an entire day for this task so that there’s no chance of getting distracted by other tasks around the house when those pesky chores suddenly appear on their own accord… just kidding! But seriously: give yourself plenty of time so that if one draft doesn’t work out as planned, there’s still time left over at night or early morning when everyone else has gone to bed (or work) so that they don’t hear us yelling “oh my god THIS IS TERRIBLE AND I NEED TO START OVER AGAIN” while they’re trying their hardest not hear us yell “oh my god THIS IS TERRIBLE AND I NEED TO START OVER AGAIN” all night long.
4. Make your main character a person and not just a mouthpiece for ideas
Make your main character a person, not just a mouthpiece for ideas.
Give your character a name and backstory. In addition to being an objective piece of information about them, their name also gives you something to call them when you need to refer to them by something other than “the guy” or “the girl”. You can also use their last name if it’s funny or if it helps give more clarity (“Wait—you mean the one who left me for another woman? Why does he have the same first and last name as me?! That is so annoying! They should never have done that! Come onnnn….”).
Your main character’s personality will shape how they talk and act in this monologue, so try to describe it with as much detail as possible: What kind of things do they like? How do they feel about certain situations or people? What are their goals in life? Who would they rather be friends with than enemies?
5. Create tension by creating context
Context is the surrounding circumstances, usually of a dramatic or emotional nature, that give rise to the action in your monologue.
In Breaking Bad, for example, there are many scenes where Walter White sits in his car before deciding to confront someone who has wronged him or someone he cares about. This is an effective way to create tension: We know something bad is about to happen because we see what’s going on inside Walter’s head. He’s not thinking about cereal; he’s thinking about revenge!
We don’t have time here to go into great detail on how writers use context within their work—a lot of it has been done elsewhere and you can find it if you’re interested—but I hope this gives you an idea of what context means when we talk about writing monologues and how important it can be when crafting your own pieces!
6. Make every moment count
- Make every moment count:
- Make sure each line has a purpose. Why are you saying this? Is it important in the overall story? What does it do for the scene or for your character? If it doesn’t contribute anything to either, maybe consider cutting it out.
- Use specific details to help the audience understand what is happening: Do not use broad generalizations like “I was happy” or “I felt sad”. Instead, try using concrete examples of how you were happy (or sad), like “I smiled from ear to ear” or “My eyes welled up with tears.”
- Use your character’s actions to convey the mood or tone of the monologue: If they’re angry and throwing things around their room, show us that by showing us how they move onstage through actions such as stomping their feet loudly on stage while talking angrily about something (a good example would be Marilyn Monroe in Seven Year Itch).
7. Deciding on tone and mood, with an example from Breaking Bad
Tone is the writer’s attitude towards the subject. A monologue can have a serious tone, like a letter to your father where you’re telling him that he has to stop drinking because of his health. Or it can be playful, like an apology for spilling orange juice on someone’s shirt at breakfast.
Mood is what the reader feels when they read the piece. The mood of Breaking Bad is suspenseful, because Walter White keeps getting closer and closer to death as he works out how to kill Gus Fring in his own restaurant without being caught by any of Gus’s henchmen or cops who are looking for him everywhere else on Earth (or so it seems).
8. Editing your monologue
Editing your monologue is very important. You want to make sure that it is grammatically correct, and you also want to check for spelling mistakes, punctuation mistakes, tense mistakes, word choice and structure. When editing your monologue you should also look at the flow of the piece. If there are any places where the audience might become confused or lose interest in what they are hearing then it may be best to cut those parts out completely or change them around so that they work better with what has already been said in order to maintain a good flow throughout the monologue
You can learn how to write a monologue if you know where to start, what to write about and how to edit it properly
As you write your monologue, think carefully about what you’re saying and how it makes the audience feel.
Your first step should be to know who you are as a character and what they’re like. You need to understand their background and motivations, so that when you write the monologue, it’s clear why they are doing what they are doing right now.
You also want to know about the context of the scene in which your character is speaking. For example: if there’s an argument between them and someone else, what happened before this moment? What will happen after? If there’s any backstory or history between two characters involved in this scene (and there probably is), then include it in your monologue! This will help readers understand everything better if they haven’t read all of Shakespeare’s plays already (because I’ve never done that either).
If you’re a writer and want to write monologues, this article is for you. I’ve tried to provide all the key information here so that it will be easy for anyone looking for tips on how to write one. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below!