1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Solioquy in Novels

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Elgaisma, Dec 19, 2010.

    Has anyone attempted writing one? In someways my novels are one long solioquy. However I have a scene with two characters where I want to be a bit more Shakespearean about it. Any tips for not making it an infodump?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I always tend to think of a soliloquy as something for a play rather than a novel, as the character gets to pour out his heart. OTOH, much of "The Old Man and the Sea" is soliloquy, really, when Santiago is talking to the fish. I haven't attempted one, myself, but I'm considering it in the novel I'm working on now.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is my problem - I think plays but I have a scene that is crying out for two, one from my MC in thoughts is fairly easy. The one however from another character speaking to him is going to be harder to get over. I think he needs to overhear it rather than be spoken to.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    long monologues in novels are an annoyance more often than not... and should be avoided...

    btw, a monologue/soliloquy would not be an info dump unless you make it one... which should also be avoided...
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would normally avoid and may delete it - however it would get round a particular plot problem I have right now. The thought came because when I was working it out two famous Shakespearean ones came to mind: Milk of human kindness one of Lady Macbeth and To be or Not to Be from Hamlet. Also the characters are called Socrates and Plato so allows for some fun using their quotes. Was contemplating giving it its own chapter with the feeling of a play. I suppose Plato could write it down and give it to Socrates to read hmm...

    I was wondering how people who have tried it approached it. And if they were successful.
     
  6. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    Well, a soliloquy would be if the person was talking to himself. So if you have two people in a room together, would that be more of a monologue?

    I've never exactly written a monologue, although I've had moments in my novella where a character talked for a little longer than usual. But I act in my school's theater club, and I did get to recite a monologue last year. What I noticed was that pausing was key. The monologue I recited was very long, but when I examined it, I realized that it really contained distinct "sections," between which I paused, kind of sighed, and changed the pitch and tone of my voice.

    I think that in a novel, you'd have to break it into paragraphs and intersperse it with what the character is doing, e.g. what facial expressions he/she is making, what their hands are doing, are they pacing, etc.

    And brevity is your friend. Cut what isn't important in order to emphasize what is.

    I agree with mammamaia; in most circumstances, the monologue/soliloquy is not very effective in a novel. But that doesn't mean there aren't appropriate scenarios for it. I think in novel writing, you can do just about anything if you do it well.
     
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  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you Jo you have just given me an idea - stupid of me. I know I can write speeches well and perform them - if I plot it and plan it like a speech it should work well. After all that is what solioquy is.

    As a reader I know in this scenario I would allow the writer some leeway with this. The situation needs the other person's POV clearly worked out. Actually the Gethsemane song from Jesus Christ Superstar may help with the particular situation. Thanks for help.
     
  8. Ruth Jacobs
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    Ruth Jacobs Member

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    I haven't experience of writing a soliloquy but I have used something similar in my present novel, which is a dramatic monologue. It is only one short paragraph and breaks what I believe is called the fourth wall (which apparently should be avoided), as the novel is written in third person limited and that piece is written in first person. It's describing an horrific past event and first person makes that same paragraph so much more powerful. I had originally written it in third, and may end up changing it back, but everytime I read it again I can't bring myself to do it.

    Edit: Actually I think what I did is called an aside, and not a dramatic monologue after all.
     
  9. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of my characters tells a story to a child, but when the child falls asleep, she continues talking, since she needs to tell her story to someone. In effect, it's a masked soliloquy.

    If you feel an old-style soliloquy is out of place, you can use a framing device, like, the main character is narrating to someone, or recording something on tape.
     
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  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Long speeches in novels -- Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged!" :D

    Although, her heroes were deliberately more ideals than realistic people -- mouhtpieces for her philosophy so to speak -- so no one really talks that way and it's not realistic (I still admit it's one of my favorite books).
     
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  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks you everyone - Islander that was what I did - I turned them into two prayers. One said out loud fervently overheard by the other person who was inspired to offer up their own. It has turned into what looks like a pretty powerful piece of writing. May feel differently in the morning.

    I was inspired by the Gethsemane song - it was perfect as the idea is two religious men - one is having to perform a sacrifice and one is the sacrifice.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not really, since a soliloquy is someone talking to himself and a speech is intended for an audience...
     
  13. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    Well, to be fair, a soliloquy is intended for an audience, too, just less directly. When an actor says a soliloquy, it's intended for those fine people who are sitting in the chairs below the stage. But yes, I think monologue would be a better word for what is being described.
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any speaker worth their salt wants to put the power of Hamlet and Lady Macbeth into their diatribe on how to gut a fish or whatever they have been assigned. The pauses, watching the audience, facial expressions etc have similar roots. If the actor doesn't take the audience with them during a soliloquy the play is ruined.

    What I have written is borderline between a monologue and a soliloquy it has elements of both in it, until I turned it into a prayer it was a soliloquy now it is a prayer - they are addressing the Universal Father so is a monlogue in places. There is that tinge of madness in places and complete despair which is more solioquy than monologue.

    The three people I had read it over said it reads like a play - which was my intention so I am pleased.

    To make it seem less out of place I have forshadowed it with other ceremonies and similar language but done with less anguish and words.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As Mallory said, check out Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Particularly, check out John Galt's speech. What is it, 40 pages or more?
     
  16. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    A good example could be "The Grand Inquisitor", in The Brothers Karamazov. In it, one brother, drunk, condemns the church. It's almost completely from that one character, with little questions here and there from a different brother.

    You really get to know the character, but it's a chapter long monolog (technically a dialog where the other character barely speaks) that does absolutely nothing for the plot.

    -Frank
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    "The Grand Inquisitor" is a great chapter.

    Personally, "Rebellion" is my favorite chapter of the book.
     

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