Monologues – How On Earth Do I Write One?


Okay, so your teacher asks you to write a monologue. You sit there and think one thing; what is a monologue? Well, the answer is something that is remarkably simple. It is, in effect, a diary entry, but whereas a diary is only to be read by the person writing it, this is meant to be recited, out loud, or read with meaning out loud. It is then, a collection of thoughts from the perspective of a character in a play, or prose, or even a poem. Okay, you think, that does not sound too bad. I can do that. And do you know, that is the best attitude to have. The “I can do that” attitude gets C grade and above, generally speaking.

So how do you write one?

As with any other piece of writing on here or in your exam, or at the moment, for coursework Controlled Assignments, there are stages and the first one is planning. Then, when you have planned it out, you can write it. But how do you plan it? Once again, there are easy ways to do it and my 5 point plan, as shown on other items in this blog, becomes usable in this instance. For example, the Introduction, Point 1, Point 2, Point 3 and conclusion idea works well here.

I hear you begging for an example.

Well here is one. Consider for a moment, the character of Jenett Humphries in Woman In Black, by Susan Hill. If you are not new to this blog, you will know I taught it last year in Leeds. If you were fortunate to see me and be in the classroom at the time, you will know my love for this novella. But you will also know who Jenett Humphries is, for she is the mysterious woman in black. She is the vengeful ghost who steals babies away.

But what do we know about her? Well, once again, go to your notes on the novella and you will see the following:

1. Jenette Humphries was a single mother in a time when it was not acceptable.
2. She had a sister, called Alice Drablow. The sister was married.
3. She was forced to have the child and give it to her sister to bring up.
4. She was made to see her son grow up knowing her as auntie rather than mother.
5. She followed the rules to the letter of the law. But she did not enjoy it.
6. She lived with her sister and brother in law at Eel Marsh House.
7. One day, she saw from the upstairs window something that would change her.
8. She witnessed the death by drowning, of her infant son and his maid.
9. This sent her over the edge because she was planning to escape with the boy.
10. She went mad with grief and died; she came back as the woman in black.
11. She now haunts Eel Marsh House. There is suspicion that she killed her sister.
12. After her sister dies, she haunts the town of Crythin Gifford.
13. It is said that each time someone sees her, a child will be taken and die.
14. When Arthur Kipps arrives to sort out her sister’s papers, he sees the ghost.
15. She haunts Kipps until he is desperate to escape back to London.
16. She kills Kipps’ wife and baby son at the end of the story. That is her revenge!

Now, armed with all that information, you can plan your monologue, which is the woman in black herself, speaking her thoughts out loud. The writing is exactly the same as your teacher will have given you [or should have – if you never did one of these at KS3 then your teacher needs sacking!] in Year 7 when you had to write a diary account from a character’s perspective. This is no different.

But here is where the tricky part hits home – what you write depends on where in the story it has to be placed. If your teacher wants it after the scene in the church with Kipps, then there can be no reference of the haunting of Kipps afterwards in the house, apart from an “I will terrify him when he comes to my house later.” This is because it has not happened yet. Likewise, if your teacher wants it written at the time when she has just killed Kipps’ son and wife then all the details can be added. So, your writing has to be time specific.

Everything has to make sense.

Let’s say it is at the end. How do you plan it? Well, using that 5 point plan, I would suggest the following:

1. I remember the first time I saw that strange young man from London.
2. He had the temerity to live in my house, my family home. How dare he?
3. I then terrified the life out of him [and his little dog too].
4. I caused him to run away, scared for his life. He escaped, or so he thought.
5. He has seen me, so I have to take the child, his newly born son.

You need to get over the idea of her thinking “I cannot have mine, so he is not having his! I will have my revenge.” But be careful with number 3 above, because this is not the Wizard of Oz [sorry,  could not resist that one].

Now, whereas an essay about this novella is written in present tense [Kipps then asks…..] this style of writing is written in past tense, like a story [I taught him a lesson he will never forget]. The key word there is “taught” rather than “teach.” Your task is to get the feelings and emotions of the caracter across to the reader. Be emotional if needs be. Be cold and callous where the need arises. Be wicked or evil, if the character is like that. And above all, have fun doing it.

Be a show off! Show off your brilliant writing skills because this is assessed for spelling, punctuation and grammar!  So, without me writing one up for this blog, which makes it too easy for you, may I now suggest you have a go at one based from a prose text you have read this year. When it is done, add it and leave a message here so it can be added onto the blog by me, or better still, go to the Facebook page and add it there as a note. I look forward to reading your glorious work.