What Makes a Great Monologue – 11 Elements

A man sitting on a sofa reading a script

A great monologue is one that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s one that has a beginning with an interesting hook, a middle with a strong point, and an end with an unexpected twist.

It’s one that has a beginning that builds to the middle and an end that wraps up the story or It’s one that has a beginning that leads into the middle and an end that sets up the next story.

WHAT IS A MONOLOGUE?

A monologue is a long speech delivered by one character in a theatre production or film.

Monologues can either be one character talking to themselves or to the audience or talking to other characters in the scene.

When a character’s monologue is at play, we know it’s one of the most important reveals in the scene. It will give the viewers/audience details about the plot or character.

MONOLOGUE VS. SOLILOQUY

A monologue is a speech delivered by one person, often from the perspective of that person speaking to another individual or addressing an audience. In simpler terms, In a monologue, one character is addressing the audience or other characters.

While, Soliloquy is a speech delivered by one person, usually an individual speaking to themselves or their own thoughts. This type of speech typically has no dialogue or other characters in the play (the character is speaking alone).

HOW LONG IS A MONOLOGUE?

Old alarm clock

A speech said by one character for more than a minute constitutes a monologue.

A monologue can be 1 page long or more.

A great monologue will not be too long or too short. It will capture the audience’s attention and imagination with length and tone but cut short just at the right time.

It may be long but it needs to be as laser-focused and grab the audience’s attention.

Monologues should be around one minute, or 90 seconds max. 

HOW TO WRITE A MONOLOGUE

A good monologue is structured like a good story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The Beginning

This is an essential part of any monologue. You must try to transition into a monologue smoothly with your first line.

The Middle

This is considered the hardest part to write.

You must make it exciting, and don’t be predictable.

Keep it engaging and make the plot interesting. 

You should also make the characters unique.

The End

You shouldn’t leave the casting director hanging without providing some form of finish.

Don’t input too much detail at the end, this will make it less interesting.

HOW TO CHOOSE A WINNING MONOLOGUE ; A SUCCESSFUL MONOLOGUE PERFORMANCE

1. Choosing Your Monologue

You should select an entertaining one. 

It should be in the moment. It should not be a character telling a story or a past memory.

2. Length

Keeping your monologue within 1-2 minute will showcase you as a professional actor. 

3. Find one that fits you perfectly

Is it age-appropriate? Is it physically accurate?

A monologue should show who you are. It needs to be real, they should forget you’re acting.

4. Language

Can I curse in a monologue? , Yes.

Be mindful of how raw and versatile the monologue is and you can substitute a word for another but make sure it complements the piece.

5. Choice of the type of monologue 

Choose one that is serio-comedic, not just comedic or dramatic.

This means having a mixture of the serious and the comic.

Start with something that’s funny and get people to laugh.

Then make a U-turn and hit them with something traumatic.

The character might make jokes – even getting the audience to laugh – but it comes from a place of pain.

A good example might be a contemporary dramatic monologue called “Doing the Math”, performed here by Abby Burgess.

6. Storyline

Your monologue should have a storyline. Unique with twists and turns. Something that will grab the audience’s attention.

7. Character

You should work within your character zone, know your type and stay grounded. 

The character often needs to express a specific desire for the audience to hear.

Whether it’s something as simple as wanting to be loved, or something more complex like wanting revenge, the goal is to make sure that desire is clear and show that the character wants it badly.

That way, your character’s desires are more tangible and believable.

8. Pick one that portrays you’re a winner

Don’t pick a monologue where you play a loser or a victim. 

Pick one that showcases you as a winner, courageous and resilient. 

Leave a lasting impression.

9. Props

Ask your casting directors if it’s ok to use props. 

Don’t overdo it with props. You want the attention to be on you not the 19th-century samurai sword.

10. Relationship 

Your character should be talking to one specific individual. 

11. Wow 

Your monologue should end in such a way that the audience/casting directors know it’s over.

One way to end a monologue is when the character finally accepts something, finally overcomes an obstacle, finally figures something out, or comes to a decision.  

The goal here is to leave them with a lasting impression.

TIPS FOR PERFORMING YOUR BEST MONOLOGUE

Book - The passion within a womens journal
  • Keep it as short as possible. The more focused it is the more memorable it will be for the audience.
  • Have a few monologues and space them out. They shouldn’t be back to back. This will ensure each monologue is unique and prevent boredom.
  • Make sure you’re ready and presentable before you get started.
  • Pick who or what you’re directing the monologue to. Is it the audience?, is it the wall?… whatever it is be focused on it and don’t stare down the  panelists.
  • Make sure you pronounce the words in the monologue accurately. Like the names, places etc…
  • Breakdown the monologue and consult with your friends on how to make it seem even more alive.
  • Have a clear objective on performing your best monologue.
  • Time yourself before you get to the audition. Don’t go over! It’s unprofessional and you may be stopped before you get a chance to finish.
  • Show that you’re adaptable and willing to try new things.
  • Your act should contain conflict.
  • Expand your knowledge base by reading and watching more monologues. As the saying goes “ Great monologues are inspired by other great monologues “

Conclusion

A great monologue is one that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s one that has a beginning with an interesting hook, a middle with a strong point, and an end with an unexpected twist.

Monologues should be around one minute, or 90 seconds max. 

Don’t pick a monologue where you play a loser or a victim, pick one that portrays you as a winner.

Leave a comment with your opinion or any questions you may have below…