Since ancient Greek theater, a powerful monologue can be used as a way to captivate an audience. Some of the greatest moments in theatre and films have come in the form of monologues.

However, it is one thing to have monologues in your script, and it is another thing to know why you are writing them as well as how to write them well. 

Before going into all the interesting details about writing a strong monologue, let’s see what a monologue actually is.

My musician friends could always practice what they loved doing, but I can’t go on a street corner and start reciting a monologue. Acting is very collaborative, and you always need other people with you – mainly an audience.

Julia Stiles

What is a Monologue?

The word “monologue” consists of the Greet roots for “alone” and “speak.” The term refers to a long speech by a single character which is either addressing other characters in the scene or talking to the audience.

A monologue can serve a specific purpose in storytelling. If used carefully, a powerful monologue can give the audience more details about a plot or a character. They are a great way to share the backstory of a character or his internal thoughts.

While monologues and soliloquy are similar (since in both, speeches are presented by a single character), the main difference between them is that the speaker in a monologue reveals his thoughts to other characters in the scene or the audience, while the speaker in a soliloquy expresses his thoughts to himself.

Examples of Powerful Monologues

  • Jocasta in Oedipus the King: “Why should a mortal man, the sport of chance, with no assured foreknowledge, be afraid?” 
  • Antigone in Antigone: “Yea for these laws were not ordained by Zeus, And she who sits enthroned with gods below…”
  • Marc Antony in Julius Caesar: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…”
  • Flute (as Thisbe) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Asleep, my love? What, dean, my dove? O Pyramus, arise!”
  • Gloucester in Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York…”
  • Jacques in As You Like it: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…” 
  • Hamlet in Hamlet: “To be, or not to be, that is the question…”
  • Viola in Twelfth Night: “I left no ring with her: what means this lady?”

Monologue Structuring Tips

The structuring of a good monologue is similar to that of a good story; it will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Without a buildup and a resolution, long stories can become stale and monotonous.   

  • Beginning: there’s always a reason to initiate a monologue, even in real life. People usually start speaking in response to something that happened or was said. Your first line must make a smooth transition into a monologue. An easy way to start a monologue could be “I was thinking of what was said of him…”
  • Middle: This is usually the toughest part to write in a monologue. This is because long speeches can bore your viewers, and so it is important to avoid predictable monologues. You can achieve this by crafting little twists and turns into the storytelling. Adding such interesting plot details, and unique ways the character describes them can keep your monologues engaging and fresh.
  • End: it is common for monologues to end with a quick statement of meaning, especially monologues meant to convince other characters in the scene to do something. You don’t have to do so much explanation nonetheless, you can trust your audience to find meaning in it for themselves.

In conclusion, there has to be a purpose for using a monologue in a play or film. It shouldn’t be used merely to tell what you can’t show. Instead, it should add more depth to your story, or be a call to action.