Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Monologues (pt 3): What a monologue can do

I'm sure this list is not conclusive, but it sure shows the range and power of monologues.

  • Move Forward: advance the story.
    • To start or end the story.
    • Tell or further the story; by saying what comes next or moving the action to a different place and time.
    • Can also be used to move on other stories that are happening in parallel, for example by telling what's happening to another character outside the scene. ("At that same time, in her small bedroom 3 miles away, Jeanette sighed because she somehow knew she would never get Jack back" But we don't (yet) go to see that scene.)

  • Expand: give more information about the characters, relationships, objects or environment. Can also tell us events related or tangential to the story without forwarding it. This is usually a form of narration.
    • Add description and details.
      • For objects and environment, this usually sets the scene or creates an atmosphere: "The library is old. A thin layer of dust lies on the wood and leather covers belong to another era." "Outside, a police siren wails and then fades into the night."
    • Tell us history or back-story.
    • Inform us of the effects of an action. ("The glass fell from the window and narrowly missed an old lady below who swore at a passing taxi driver who went home and shouted at his wife.")
    • In rare instances, tell us the future of something or someone (usually as an aside). ("Six weeks later, I found that same teapot broken on the kitchen floor. The spout had smashed to smithereens." "That was the last time she said, 'I love you' to me." The latter could count as furthering the story, depending n context.)
    • Perhaps rarer, in improv, are details from outside the scene. Often to illustrate what is happening, metaphorically. ("Somewhere across town, a tree in the middle of the park fell over.")

  • Dig Deeper: explain things from within the mind of one of the characters.
    • Give inner thoughts: add depth, layers, point of view, wants, desires, phobias, motivation (explain why a character is doing what he or she is doing).
    • Tell a secret: explain something one character knows that the other doesn't.

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