Q&A: Formatting Series—Multi-Functional Monologues

Q&A: Formatting Series—Multi-Functional Monologues

A monologue?! No experienced writer would ever use a monologue. Do you want to be taken as an amateur?

Yes, a long swath of unbroken dialogue will absolutely kill your script. The moment a reader sees that blatant brick of text just droning on and on, all your hard work on the pages beyond will remain unread. On the other hand, an expertly crafted monologue can absolutely be an asset in your narrative toolbox, you just need to know how to wield it.

Spoiler: It’s called breaking up your dialogue.

Break-Up Technique #1:

Allow the character to provide beats and breaks as the monologue progresses. This technique allows you to explore the emotions the character is experiencing in the scene. Are they nervous? Or perhaps angry?

Usually, a person evokes a range of emotions over the course of a long external or internal monologue. Also, you can break things up with whatever action the character is doing while speaking.

For example, if the character is building a chair, or cutting the fingers off a victim, this intercut of action is the perfect way to add breaks of insight that layer the dialogue being said.

You can learn a lot from watching a person rather than just listening to them, so allow the reader to “watch” your character as well as hear them.

Break-Up Technique #2:

Allow the environment to “interrupt” or provide breaks in the monologue. These interruptions add a layer of description to the surroundings and allow you to set a firm tone for the scene.

If a character is watching the ocean tide roll in, then you can emphasize the CRASH of the waves or the CRY of the seagulls’ in-between bits of dialogue to add emphasis when appropriate.

Another example could include a character giving a speech while simultaneously studying the listening audience, including the subtle reactions of certain individuals. Are they bored? Suspicious of what is being said? This method provides insight into what your character is experiencing during their speech.

Break-up Technique #3:

Use “INSERT” to add scene breaks as the monologue progresses. This is usually a complete scene cutaway that doesn’t need its own header because it is typically contained within the “mind” of the character delivering the speech. These INSERTS can act either as mini-flashbacks or subtle info-dumps to add context to the present scene.

You can also splice two completely different scenes together to add breaks in your dialogue. One scene contains the monologue, while the second scene shows a character on some sort of mission. You can overlay the monologue via “V.O.” over the action scene and cut back-and-forth as needed.

Whatever method utilized to best deliver a power monologue, just remember to break—it—up.

*Feature photo by Vladislav Murashko (Pexels)

Ruth Sabin has a secret identity: children’s book author by day and by night... a screenwriter who loves a gritty adventure. Makes for an eclectic portfolio and a fun career of creative consulting.
More posts by Ruth Sabin.
Twitter icon Twitter Facebook icon Facebook Pinterest icon Pinterest Reddit icon Reddit
Click here for our recommended reading list.

An Invitation

To a global community of creatives.

All Pipeline Artists members are eligible for monthly giveaways, exclusive invites to virtual events, and early access to featured articles.

Pipeline Artists
Thanks for Subscribing