Writing monologues is a skill that takes practice. When students are learning how to write monologues, it’s easy for them to fall into the trap of writing a story spoken by one person. Storytelling narrative structure is familiar — we are taught to read and write stories from a young age.
Monologues are different. The purpose of a monologue is to communicate rather than simply describe or narrate something that already happened. When teaching students how to write a monologue, our goal is to move them away from the storytelling framework they are used to writing in, and into a character communication experience.
Here is a bare bones guide to the difference between a monologue and a story. This is not an exhaustive list of all the nuances that make a monologue, but it’s a good place to start, especially if students have never written a monologue before.
If students aren’t sure whether what they are writing is a monologue or a story, have them read through their piece and answer the following questions:
Compare the answers to the points listed above (or use the handy chart available to download below). If the student’s piece is more in line with the first column, they’ve written a monologue. If their piece is more in line with the second column, they’ve likely written a story. They’ll need to adjust or re-format their piece to make it an active, communicative monologue.