How to write a monologue
If you want to challenge yourself and try to write your own piece, the best way to start is to decide right away if you are going for a dramatic piece, comedic or serio-comic. The character should be dealing with an issue or a situation that is worrying them, something that is important to them, and the more you can relate to the issue your character is dealing with, the better your writing will be. This doesn’t mean that you need to write a monologue for a character that is just like you and is dealing exactly with the same problems you are dealing with in your life. To make it more interesting, a good approach would be to actually choose a character who is very different from you that has an issue you can relate to somehow.
The most important part of the process, and what you should focus on after deciding the type of monologue you’ll be writing, is to think of the purpose of the monologue. This will guide your writing and will lead to the climax or resolution of the monologue. Ask yourself, what is the character trying to achieve, reveal or express? Is he or she only looking for an “emotional release”, express their feelings about something? Or so they have a secret they want to reveal? Or maybe there’s something specific they are after? You should always keep that in mind when writing your piece. You may take twists and turns and diverge from the final resolution/revelation of the speech if you want to keep your audience guessing or entertained but ultimately, that’s where the character will get after delivering the monologue and that purpose will be the guiding point of your writing.
Second, ask yourself, who is the character delivering the monologue addressing? If he or she is addressing another character, who is the person the character is addressing? What’s their relationship and what’s their backstory? Write down a brief summary of who the person your character is addressing is and what their relationship is. This will also help you guide your writing and come up with subtle subtext for your monologue.
Another very important thing is to visualize your character’s voice pattern and detailed physical and emotional traits. Visualization is often overlooked in writing but it is as important as anything else in the process, if not more. You may have worked out the goal of the character, the emotional state and the details of his/her life but actually visualizing a specific person, his/her speech pattern and physical features will make your writing much easier. Imagine yourself actually delivering the monologue in the presence of the other character, if you’re writing the piece for you to deliver. If not, think of a friend you know well, how he/she speaks or if you can’t think of anybody you know, think of an actor you might have seen in a movie or tv show. Whoever you choose, after setting the goal of the monologue, visualize the character and the delivery.
As you start the monologue, make sure to start off with a bang as you need to engage your audience right away. It could maybe be a funny line or something interesting the character reveals. Whatever you decide, it should hook the audience right away. So you have set the goal on the character, you know his or her emotional state, what they are after and how they are going about it. But what’s the weakness of the character and what’s his main goal? What’s stopping them? Understand the weakness or weaknesses of the character. Write down not only the strengths of your character but his/her weaknesses. More precisely, what’s stopping him/her from achieving his/her goal? How did he/she get to that emotional state he/she is revealing in the monologue.
You are at good point now. You know your character’s strengths and weaknesses, you know his backstory and the backstory of the character he/she is addressing. You know how he/she looks and the speech pattern. You know what the goal of the monologue is and you started off the monologue with an interesting opening line. But don’t forget, all the audience has to understand your character is what you write so make the speech interesting including small details and stories that will make the audience understand the character more. You can diverge from the goal of the monologue as much as you want as long as you don’t forget the direction of the monologue. When you diverge and tell a story, make it interesting, funny, dramatic and add small details. It’s in the details that the character will become alive in the eyes of the audience.
Finally, your monologue needs to have a climax, which could be for example the moment when the character makes a revelation or does something dramatic. The purpose of the monologue will finally be revealed, the character will either reveal a secret or something that will change the direction of the story or his/her relationship with the character he/she is addressing. Whatever you choose, make sure to make it interesting. The climax should be powerful and memorable and, in some cases, should change the way the audience has seen or imagined your character up until that moment.
To conclude, as with any writing, make sure you edit it. Remember, your delivery needs to flow and the audience needs to be either entertained or engaged. Most of the times writers tend to overwrite, make their stories too long, too detailed, and, when delivered, it won’t sound like a natural conversation. So, after your first draft, read it out loud and ask a friend to read it to you a couple of times. It will soon become clear what’s redundant and what’s working. So, trim it down, keep it flowing and make your monologue sound as natural as possible and you’ll have a hit.