How to Write a Monologue: Format, Ideas & Tips

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  • 0:04 Monologue
  • 1:01 Structure of a Monologue
  • 4:10 Advice & Tips
  • 5:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Social Studies, and Science for seven years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

With its central focus on dialogue, writing a script is no easy feat. Watch this lesson to discover how to use a dramatic monologue to enhance your characters and storyline in a drama or movie.

Monologue

What do you envision when you think of the term conversation? Most of us will imagine two or more people verbally exchanging ideas. Oral communication is usually thought of as a two-way street, short statements exchanged between people.

However, there is another option for verbal communication: the monologue. A monologue is an uninterrupted speech made by a single character. Don't confuse this with a formal speech, which is written and performed in front of a crowd. A monologue is typically used in a drama or film. It should be aimed at another character within the story.

This is also different from a soliloquy, which features the character talking to him or herself. Shakespeare's famous speech in Hamlet is a soliloquy, as Hamlet is alone on stage. If you're writing a script, you will use a monologue when one character is speaking to other characters for any length of time.

This rest of this lesson outlines how to create an effective monologue.

Structure of a Monologue

Let's first discuss how to structure your monologue. Actually, in order to understand that, we have to cover the purpose of a monologue, as that helps to explain the structure. Dramas and movies both rely heavily on dialogue. We know what a character is thinking because of what he or she says. A monologue can be used to help explain a character's motivations, plans, or crises, which all help to drive the plot of the story.

With this in mind, set up your monologue like a mini-story with a beginning, middle, and end. Start with a compelling statement that will hook the reader. The beginning describes the situation the character is in. Next, build to the middle of your monologue, which features the climax or turning point. Your character should come to some sort of revelation, which shows a change in the character or affects the plot in some way. Eventually, you come to the end where you draw the monologue to a close and lead into what will happen next in the overall story.

Here's an example from J.R.R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Sam speaks to Frodo about their feelings of despair about their mission to destroy the evil ring.

I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Sam's monologue has a clear beginning, middle, and end. He starts by addressing their situation and then comes to the turning point, which is his realization that the idea of giving up is a passing shadow. In the end, he reveals that he will refuse to give up, which in turn inspires Frodo to continue on.

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