This I Believe: Your Narrative Properly Sequenced

i believe hand→ I believe parents have a duty to support their children, even when it gets incredibly challenging (because you want to kill them).

→ I believe that you shouldn’t tell your best friend (spouse, mother, partner) absolutely everything.

→ I believe that kids should get dirty–when my daughter comes home filthy from playing, I know she has had a great day.

Hello North Salinas High School Students! The rest of you: welcome to our This I Believe Monologue project whereby students will write a 3 – 5 minute monologue about something that illustrates their credo for life. The monologue must be backed up with a true, personal story. Because it’s a high school theatre class, students will perform their work with a small group of 4 other other students. Think cool performance art piece with lights, movement and sound.

This post gets us into the nuts and bolts of how to tell our story that backs up our This I Believe monologue project. At the end of this article, I am going to ask you to write your credo, your “I believe” statement, in the comment section below. It’s time to commit!

By now you should have that belief written in stone. How about that opening paragraph? Now you need to tell the story of WHY you believe the way you do or HOW you came to this belief. I know, easier said than done…

Before you start on your story, why don’t you peruse some stellar essays at the This I Believe websiteWhile there are a bazillion great ones on the site, the one I always teach as an example is Deirdre Sullivan’s “Always Go to the Funeral,” essay. It’s short yet eloquent. It’s punchy and hits our guilt button hard because, heck, of course we don’t want to go, but know that we should attend that funeral.

Go on, read or listen to some great essays and then come back and work on your own monologue.  

Weren’t Those Essays Killer?!

So, hopefully you took my advice and have read a bunch of great essays and are thinking, “Right, thanks a lot Rillingale. Mine will never sound that great.” Of course yours will, and I have an excellent tool to help.

First of all, since you are telling a story, you will need to list the events of your story in order. Do that right now. Make a list of five things you can tell us about your story.

Did you put your list in chronological order? You will need the words of sequence to get your audience from point A event in your story to point Z event. Start by telling your story in order from the first event to the end. Weave in these sequencing words to help your audience follow along.

Sequencing terms include words or phrases like: first of all, initially, at the beginning. Think transitions from your Freshman English class, that get us from one event to another in your story. I have used a ton of sequencing words in this post as an example. Did you notice any?

Transition Words for Time or Sequence

Here are some others to get you started. Note that some sound more SAT-like than others. Feel free to use any in any combo that help you tell your story.

  • after, afterward
  • before, formerly, previously
  • last, at last, at length
  • first, second, etc.,
  • at first, to begin with, in order to
  • finally, eventually, later
  • next, soon, then, later, eventually, immediately
  • meanwhile, at the same time, in the meantime, simultaneously, concurrently
  • for a minute, hour, day, etc.,
  • during the morning, day, week, etc.,

So quit stalling and get started on that story. Start at the beginning. Tell us how it relates to your belief. Weave in those transition words. Tell some more details of your story, being sure to keep things in the right order so your audience doesn’t get confused.

Remember, being playwright is only 1/2 of this project; you will be performing it in just a couple of weeks! Can we do it? Yes we can!

Commit to your credo! Write your “I believe” statement below.

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Categories: Teachables

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6 replies

  1. I strongly believe in having a positive mindset and a tough attitude because it gets you through obstacles, and goals you desire to achieve. It will definetly get you through things you thought you weren’t able to over come. Attitude is 100%

  2. It helped me organize my monologue as a story that happened to me in real life

  3. I BELIEVE IN TAKING RISKS!

  4. Danielle 5 I agree with you as well a friend shouldn’t be a friend to your face but not a friend when your back is turned away. They should stick up for you always! 🙂

  5. I agree with Sabrina5, I believe in friends. But I also believe friends should ALWAYS have your back no matter what!

  6. I believe in friends.

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