How can I write
an "inner monologue"
in a screenplay?

Read more Screenwriting

How can I write an "inner monologue" in a screenplay?

In the realm of cinematic storytelling, the internal monologue serves as a powerful tool, providing audiences with a glimpse into the inner workings of a character's mind. When employed effectively, it adds depth and complexity to the narrative, offering a more profound understanding of the character's motivations, conflicts, and emotions. In this blog post, we'll delve into the art of crafting an internal monologue within a screenplay, exploring the key steps involved to make it resonate with the audience.


Understanding the Character:

Before embarking on the journey of writing an internal monologue, it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the character in focus. Delve into their past experiences, emotional landscape, and internal conflicts. This foundation will lay the groundwork for an authentic and compelling exploration of the character's inner thoughts.


Choosing the Right Moment:

Timing is everything when it comes to incorporating an internal monologue. Select a pivotal moment in the storyline that aligns with the character's emotional journey. Whether it's a moment of revelation, personal discovery, or internal conflict, the chosen moment should enhance the overall narrative and contribute to the character's development.


Crafting the Writing Style:

The style of writing in an internal monologue is distinctive, mirroring the unfiltered stream of consciousness of the character. Avoid overly formal language and rigid structures; instead, opt for a style that authentically captures the character's internal voice and thought process.


Selecting the Narrative Voice:

Decide whether the internal monologue will be presented as a voiceover or as part of the character's dialogue. Each approach offers a unique cinematic experience. A voiceover may provide a more intimate connection with the audience, while integrating the monologue into the character's dialogue can create a seamless and natural flow within the scene.


Exploring Emotions and Reflections:

The internal monologue is an opportunity for the character to delve into their emotions, reflections, and inner conflicts. It's a moment of vulnerability and self-discovery. Allow the character to express their hopes, fears, and deeper desires, providing the audience with a more profound insight into their psychological makeup.


Example

INT. APARTMENT - DAY

Anna sits alone on the couch, deeply immersed in her thoughts.

ANNA
What am I doing with my life? I've spent so much time chasing other people's dreams that I've lost myself along the way. Maybe it's time to listen to my own voice, to muster the courage to follow my own path.

Anna embarks on a series of reflections, exploring her innermost hopes, fears, and desires.


Using Parentheticals:

Using parentheticals within the dialogue is another effective way to convey an internal monologue. This approach allows the character to express their inner thoughts directly within the spoken words, providing a real-time insight into their mindset.


Example

INT. CAFÉ - DAY

Sarah sits across from her friend, absentmindedly stirring her coffee.

SARAH
(What am I doing with my life?)
You know, Jen, sometimes I feel like I've been running on autopilot. Wake up, go to work, repeat. Is this really what I want, or am I just going through the motions?

Jen listens attentively, sensing the depth of Sarah's internal struggle.

JEN
You seem... restless lately. Is something on your mind?

SARAH
(Maybe it's time for a change, something that truly resonates with who I am.)
Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about that. I want to do something meaningful, you know?

In this example, the parentheticals seamlessly integrate Sarah's internal thoughts into the spoken dialogue. This method provides a natural flow and allows the audience to connect with the character's inner reflections while still engaging with the external conversation. When using this approach, it's essential to strike a balance between the external dialogue and the internal monologue to maintain the scene's coherence and readability. Experiment with this technique to find the right rhythm for your narrative.


Other Inner monologues examples

Thought Bubbles: Instead of a traditional monologue, consider using thought bubbles or text overlays on the screen to visually represent the character's inner thoughts. This can be an effective way to integrate the internal monologue seamlessly into the visual storytelling.

Split Screen: Divide the screen into two sections, with one side showing the external actions and the other displaying the character's internal monologue. This technique allows for a simultaneous exploration of both the character's external and internal worlds.

Voiceover with Flashbacks: Combine the internal monologue with flashbacks or dream sequences. This approach can provide a deeper context to the character's thoughts, allowing the audience to witness significant moments from their past that contribute to the current internal conflict.

Narrative Interludes: Introduce brief narrative interludes that visually depict the character's internal landscape. This could involve surreal or abstract visuals, enhancing the emotional impact of the monologue.

Written Text on Screen: Instead of spoken words, present the internal monologue as written text on the screen. This can be particularly effective for introspective moments, creating a literary feel within the cinematic medium.

Remember, the choice of formatting should align with the tone, genre, and overall style of your screenplay.


In Conclusion

Incorporating an internal monologue into a screenplay is a delicate art that requires a nuanced understanding of character psychology and narrative pacing. When executed with precision, it elevates the cinematic experience, forging a deeper connection between the audience and the characters on screen. Aspiring screenwriters should embrace the challenge of crafting authentic internal monologues, as they have the potential to infuse narratives with a rich layer of emotional resonance.

Happy writing!





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