Ideally, I'm aware this question shouldn't come up, but let's say there's a script with a long, long block of one person speaking. And let's say the writer has gone over all the reasons why this shouldn't happen, and has decided that in this case it's justified, and let's just assume - purely for the sake of argument - that the writer's right in doing so.
I'm wondering how one would break up this text to make it more readable. Sticking beats or other wrylies in there really doesn't work, because A) they're just generally undesirable, B) there's really no call for things like (adjusts his collar), (takes a puff from his cigarette), or anything like that and C) there actually isn't meant to be any pause in the speech. That is, there are points where there are shifts in thought (where a paragraph break would make sense in another format), but it's meant to be spoken without breaks (like a guy who's loaded with caffeine, really excited, and ready to get this all off his chest as quickly as possible).
So is there any screenplay equivalent of a paragraph break in dialogue (er, monologue)? How do I make this text as readable as possible? Or am I stuck just writing it all out in one big block?

Stephen Mack
"Nobody's smart enough to be wrong all the time." -Ken Wilber
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Ideally, I'm aware this question shouldn't come up, but let's say there's a script with a long, long block of ... make this text as readable as possible? Or am I stuck just writing it all out in one big block?

I'd put in paragraph breaks it's unreadable otherwise.

"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you've got something to say."
F. Scott Fitzgerald
So is there any screenplay equivalent of a paragraph break in dialogue (er, monologue)? How do I make this text as readable as possible? Or am I stuck just writing it all out in one big block?

By what I've read here and my personal opinion is that an "artificial" break in the speech (some kind of short interruption, even contrived) is better than not breaking up the big block of monologue. I think "MWS(m) Reader" (or maybe he was still "MWS Reader") had something to say about this not too long ago.
I'll see if I can Google it.

RonB
"There's a story there...somewhere"
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Ideally, I'm aware this question shouldn't come up, but let's say there's a script with a long, long block of ... text as readable as possible?Or am I stuck just writing it all out in one big block? Stephen Mack

Well, the answer is think about how you would see this on the screen would the whole sequence in question simply be a close shot or a medium shot during which your character would speak and nothing else would happen?
Or would people be listening to him? Responding to him? Having their minds changed by him? Wouldn't we the reader/audience want to see this happening? Shouldn't that, then be something that you, the writer, be something that you ought to be describing? Not things that the speaker is doing but what are the listeners doing? How are they reacting? Do they start hostile and are they then swayed?

Take something like the two long speeches that climax "Other People's Money" now, I haven't read the screenplay but much more is happening during those monologues than simply two people standing on a stage talking you have an audience full of people, first being gathered toward a prefered and sympathetic position by Gregory Peck and then being turned, within a very short time, toward a diametrically opposite position by Danny DeVito and we have to see that not merely experience it by listening to his words but see how his words effect the people in that room.
The majority of scenes occur between people and that's true even of monologues it happens between a lone speaker and those to whom he is speaking and the fact that only one participant in the scene is doing the speaking doesn't mean that the other side of that scene should be ignored.
NMS
Ideally, I'm aware this question shouldn't come up, but let's say there's a script with a long, long block of ... make this text as readable as possible? Or am I stuck just writing it all out in one big block?

The best thing would be to insert relevant bits of action in between. I thought maybe a Shakespeare film might have some examples, and, sure enough, here's a bit from Romeo and Juliet (Baz Luhrmann version):

Romeo is close now. He halts as if in the presence of an unbelievable vision. He lights a match and the room glows gold. The warm light reveals a Juliet even more beautiful in seeming death.
Romeo lights some of the hundreds of candles that surround her.
ROMEO
O my love, my wife,
Death, that hath sucked the honey
of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy
beauty,
Thou art not conquered. Beauty's
ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy
cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not
advanced there.
Romeo kneels close, as if not wanting to wake a sleeping child. Unconscious tears fall from his eyes as he whispers.

ROMEO (CONT.)
Ah, dear Juliet, why art thou yet
so fair?
Shall I believe that unsubstantial
death
Is amorous and keeps thee here in
dark
To be his paramour? For fear of
that
I still will stay with thee. Here,
oh here
Will I set up my everlasting rest
And shake the yoke of inauspicious
stars
From this world-wearied flesh.
He lays himself close.
ROMEO (CONT.)
Eyes, look your last.
Arms, take your last embrace. And,
lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a
righteous kiss...
Gently Romeo kisses Juliet's lips. Ever so slightly, Juliet's hand moves - Romeo does not notice.
ROMEO (CONT.)
A dateless bargain to engrossing
death.
Romeo drinks from the vial; the power of the compound is immediate. He convulses and falls, his head resting on Juliet.
ROMEO (CONT.)
(fighting for breath)
O true apothecary, thy drugs are
quick.
Behind Romeo's head we can see Juliet's eyes opening. Romeo sucks the last few breaths of life into his lungs. Through a blurry consciousness Juliet becomes aware of Romeo.

I'm sure other examples are out there.
Gene
Well, the answer is think about how you would see this on the screen would the whole sequence ... participant in the scene is doing the speaking doesn't mean that the other side of that scene should be ignored.

I didn't like "Other People's Money," not that it wasn't effective and well written just too close to the kind of results you get in real life.
One of my favorite "monologue" scenes is in "Finding Forrester" where Sean Connery (Forrester) reads Rob Brown's (Wallace's) essay. You're absolutely right, what makes it work is the expressions on the faces of the audience especially when "Forrester" reads the name of the author.

And this principle could even work for a burned out druggie, ranting at his dog his dog cocks his head or cowers or, without a dog, you could cut to the faces of statues, not expressing anything even that could make a point. Something.
Thanks again. Another post for the NMS file. (When are you going to write a book on writing?)

RonB
"There's a story there...somewhere"
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check out the beginning of Sling Blade, I thought he handled it pretty well.

Mysti
Follow the flow of the language if the character talks like Proust writes, don't stick in fake breaks. You should have some structure built into the monologue, let it dictate where, or if, you put in breaks.

again, check out sling blade, it's one big hunk because that's how that character talked (I think it's one big hunk, maybe one or two paras...brain fading fast...)
Mysti
Well, the answer is think about how you would see this on the screen would the whole sequence ... participant in the scene is doing the speaking doesn't mean that the other side of that scene should be ignored.

Okay, if you're gonna force my hand: as if it isn't bad enough that I have this long block of text to wade through, the person/people the character is talking to is... the audience (yeah, yeah, I know, but the fact that it's lame and cliche is kind of the point of the scene). It's in a diner and he's on one side of a booth, and the audience (presumably) would be on the other side of the booth looking at him. And, while I generally agree that their reaction is important, it's not really something I can script.
Granted, the character may have a few ticks in between this paragraph or that one, but I generally feel like those things are up to the actor. Do I stick artificial breaks like "(looks down at his watch)" or something like that even when it's totally unimportant what in particular he actually does at that moment?
So the answer to your first question is: yeah, pretty much.

And, again, if we could just assume for the sake of this thread that the way the scene is set up is the way it has to be. It may not be, in reality, but the discussion about the validity of such a scene can wait for another time/thread.

Stephen Mack
"Nobody's smart enough to be wrong all the time." -Ken Wilber
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