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Experiments in Style: Unassertive
A dramatic monologue of sorts
If you’re new here then you can find out all about this project of mine here:
But in a nutshell it’s this: I’ve been taking a short and very bland story and rewriting it in different styles. This time I’ve chosen to do it as a dramatic monologue by an unassertive person, one with a bit of an inferiority complex. What’s a dramatic monologue? All will be revealed after the template below, which is the short story I’ve been working with.
A bang on the head (template)
In the middle of the night, I woke up (if you can call being semi-conscious being awake), walked purposefully towards the door to go to the bathroom — and almost knocked myself out.
The reason was that in the twin states of entire darkness and semi-somnambulance I was facing in a different direction from the one I thought I was facing. As a result, instead of walking through the door, I tried to walk through the wall.
The next few days brought nausea and headaches. After much prevarication I went to Accident and Emergency, where I waited petrified among people for whom “social distancing” means not quite touching you, and who wore their masks as a chin-warmer.
An hour and a half later I emerged into the twilight, secure in the knowledge that I had nothing more serious than mild concussion. I failed to do much writing, but I was pleased to have read a further 17% of my book.
This week’s version is in the style of a prose version of a dramatic monologue. This was a style of poetry developed and enhanced by Robert Browning. It takes the form of a narrator — not the poet — talking about something, and bringing the reader into his confidence.
In My Last Duchess, for example, the clear implication is that the person speaking to the reader has had his wife bumped off.
To some extent, all of these styles have been a kind of dramatic monologue, because I don’t speak or think like any of the narrators. A good example is the Cockney Rhyming Slang version. For a start, I don’t use rhyming slang except for the phrases that have become part of the English language in Britain, such as “use your loaf”, ie loaf of bread, ie head. Secondly, I don’t think in the following terms much less speak in them:
Anyway, I was sitting there on me tod, know what I mean, and a nurse rolls up and says “Come with me” and I thought to meself “You’re well in there, my son!
I mention this for the simple reason that I wanted to point out that I do not hold the views towards women stated or implied in the version that follows.
Hello, sorry to trouble you. I don’t know if you’re interested but the other week I banged my head. Sorry, I know you’ve probably got better things to do than listen to me wittering on. I mean, it’s not like World War Three broke out or anything. Anyway, just tell me to shut up if you start losing the will to live, if you haven’t done so already.
Well, I hit my head on the bedroom wall because I got out of the wrong side of bed. I don’t mean I was in a bad mood. Well, I might have been I suppose but I wasn’t aware of my mood at all because I was half asleep, because this happened in the middle of the night. I think the problem was that I needed to visit the little boys’ room and was facing in the wrong direction. Silly really. I told you it was a dead boring story!
Well, I had a bit of a headache and felt queasy for a few days but I’m a man, so left to my own devices I’d have just got on with life, but you know what women are like1. The Mrs2 kept on and on at me about “you might have cracked your skull”, and all that sort of thing until in the end I raised the white flag so to speak and popped along to A & E3 just for the sake of peace and quiet.
When I got there I seriously thought that maybe a possible fractured skull might have been the safer option. I mean hardly anyone was wearing a mask, or at least not properly, and as for social distancing — sorry, I hope I’m not putting you to sleep; I’ve nearly finished you’ll be glad to know. Yes, social distancing — that would have been nice.
Luckily I only had to wait about an hour or so to be seen, not the usual nine hours. Some nurse saw me and I think she’d just had her sense of humour removed. I mean, I tried to make a joke with her and she just looked like she wouldn’t recognise a joke if one came along and did a tap dance in front of her. Still, after a bit of prodding and poking she told me I just had a bit of concussion and to take it easy for a week or two. I’d been hoping to get some writing done but that idea went out of the window. I managed to read a bit though. Oh, the book wasn’t anything earth-shattering, I doubt you’d be interested. Anyway, hope I haven’t taken up too much of your time. Thanks for listening. Cheers.
If you’d like to see the entire list of styles, go to this index.
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This is not far from the monologue of an Irish police officer who, with some colleagues, came to our house after we’d been burgled during the night. While Elaine was showing some officers where the person broke in, this one sat me down in the kitchen and said: “The thing is, Sir, that we menfolk can take this sort of thing, but the womenfolk get very upset over it, Sir.” After they’d gone Elaine told me she heard every word and that it was all she could do not to come in the kitchen and throttle him.
I know several people who refer to their wives as “the wife” or “the Mrs”. I think it’s horrible.
Accident and Emergency.