My short story is from a third person POV, but I wanted to write a chapter in which the protagonist is doing a monologue that will tell details of her traumatic past, being kidnapped by a pedophile, instead of just writing a flashback. So how can I do it without making it look like the character is just narrating a boring story, but rather keeps the reader interested?

2 Answers 2


For starters, you need to think about what the character is feeling when recounting this tale. Do they look back on it with horror? Sorrow? Hatred?

Or has it been so long that they have simply accepted it?

How the character reacts to their trauma makes the story a lot more believable and real.

If a person has been through something traumatic, it's hard to imagine them wanting to talk about it. They might get choked up, cry, avoid certain questions, etc. The emotional response is as important if not more important than the story itself. Especially if this response is unexpected from the character.

Examples-An otherwise emotionless character breaking down in tears. A normally happy-go-lucky character speaking in a robotic and detached way. A tough, seemingly unbreakable character shivering uncontrollably at the mere mention of their trauma. Etc.

The response of the people listening is important as well.

Are they sympathetic? Do they want to find the kidnapper and get revenge on their friend's name? What do their faces look like right now? Is there fear in their eyes? Sadness? Anger?

Their reactions could affect the protagonist's feelings too.

For example, imagine the MC is telling their story and the responses of the other characters are fear, shock, and disgust. The shock is probably because they're horrified the MC went through so much trauma, but the MC might not think of it like that. They might think the disgust is directed at them instead.

The MC might think, "They're pitying me. They'll never look at me the same. They hate me. I should have never told the truth."

Or something along those lines. This leads to drama. This pushes the characters forward.

Location is significant too. Is the MC admitting their backstory in a high action moment or has everything slowed down? Telling this story on the battlefield is quite different than telling it in a cafe.

You most likely want either a slow, intimate scene where the character tells their secret in confidence to a trusted friend, or an intense, dramatic scene where the character felt compelled to tell the truth, and once the words are out they can't get them back.

Maybe if the kidnapper ever goes to court the MC might have to admit all the details to a court, for example.


Is This Thing On?

This would definitely be a style choice, and wouldn't work in all stories. Have this be the start of a chapter (or possibly even the book). Put it in indented, and deliver it in first person (like the character is breaking the fourth wall). The character delivers the monolog like they are broadcasting or recording for an audience, and may even make some reference to the supposed audience to suggest who they imagine they're talking to. Here's a somewhat raw example from the book I'm just starting.

My name is Belladonna, but everyone who knows me well calls me Beedee. I want to make it clear that there is nothing romantic about me. I am a monster. The polite term among the Zeta is Lindorm, as in “Lindorm’s disease.” The crude term is Lamia, like the Greek monster. My very existence is a war crime. My daughters, if I have any, will be vicious psychic apex predators who will reproduce parthenogenically and constantly mutate and adapt to new environments. Back home on New Madagascar, controlling the Lindorm packs is a constant struggle.

The supposed audience is a group of colonists just arriving from Earth. She explains things, but she does it as a dialog and leaves out details that she wouldn't need from her supposed audience. You don't have to establish a location, since they are speaking from some imagined place. Since it is set off (indented or otherwise separated) it doesn't require the speech to make sense in the context of the story.


A poetic version of this is the internal monolog delivered like a speech, the soliloquy. The character discusses their internal feelings with no regards to the audience. This is fun, but a bit more artsy.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.