Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Writing Monologues - Analysis

Attending a monthly screen-writing workshop hosted by Stages WA, for the March meeting we've been asked to write a 10 minute monologue that will be read out on the night by one of Perth's actors.
Now while I am a writer, I've never written for screen or stage before, preferring to specialise more in lengthy novels. I write to set a scene and record the interactions that happen therein so that my readers can have as much joy in the lives of my characters as I do. I write to recreate for my readers the scene that plays out in my head as realistically as if I'd overheard that exact conversation between friends. And for this, they need to know the setting and the context in which a conversation might occur. There is no point in confusing the reader before they begin for then they will never understand a scene enough to enjoy it and follow my characters on to the next.

I know a monologue is different, shorter, pithier, but I have no idea of how different or how to write the intended story in an alternative way so that it is a monologue that is both interesting and in the generally  accepted style. Particularly when I have no idea what the acceptable style is. And I wasn't the only one, while the screen-writing group comprised of a few older published screenwriters it also comprised of a bunch of younger writers who were interested to find their feet within the industry and were using this a brainstorming opportunity and the motivation we needed to get some much needed writing done. For this later group, this was our first attempt at writing monologues and so it would have been beneficial to have had a little bit of guidance, a few pointers...Like, how to roughly estimate 10 minutes without recording it time and time again, how to create an interesting enough story so that the monologue doesn't become monotonous, how to draw the audience in...
Unfortunately it was not to be.

Instead, it required a friend with a convenient source of knowledge and industry experience to reveal the tricks of the trade. That you may need to identify the audience as a character within the piece. How to take the audience on a trip by feeding them a snip-it of information and then playing on their assumptions so that when you feed them the next bit of information they're jolted out of the presumed track of the monologue into a different path so that by the end of the performance they are nowhere near where they'd thought they'd end up. And to make it more spectacular, leave the key to the piece to the very end, keeping it as the biggest reveal so that only as the performance finishes are they forced to think back as to how it all fits together. How, to keep the audience's attention, include an action every minute, and introduce an array of characters whom the audience is intrigued to learn more about.

Now, I have my character, my setting, my audience's identity and my secondary characters.
Now to see if I have an interesting monologue!

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