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Embark on a screenwriting journey with Quentin Tarantino.

I have this fantasy that when Quentin Tarantino retires from directing, he’ll use some of his free time to become a film professor. But I’m not sure that’s going to happen, so I guess I’ll have to settle for these compilation videos where people collect all the writing advice Tarantino has ever given. In this article, we will specifically address it Inglourious Basterdsand how this film really is perfect to learn from as a writer.

Check out this video essay by Outstanding Screenplays and let’s talk afterwards.

10 Movie Writing Tips inspired by Quentin Tarantino Inglourious Basterds

1. Think about many different ideas before committing to a project. It’s like falling in love. You flirt and date a lot of different people, but then you meet the right person.

There are always many ideas that you have. Big, small and probably different genres. But the ones you love—the ones you love so much it would kill you to see someone else write them—these are the ones you should commit to writing.

2. If you’ve written something and for some reason it doesn’t work, put it away for a while. When you come back to it, take the best bits and make a new story.

I’m a big proponent of putting ideas away for a while. Sometimes, with age and new life experiences, you can crack that spec that never quite came together for you. And sometimes you can rip out scenes and cannibalize them for other ideas.

3. Think long and hard before deciding whether to write a TV series or a movie. Seeing your script come to life in a cinema is still a once in a lifetime experience.

There’s no real reason to choose TV or movies today as streaming has started to blur those lines. But everyone needs different storytelling techniques and choices. Whatever you choose, go with it and understand the work that is required to end up with a finished product.

4. Make sure your story is plausible. You can make up whatever story rules you want. But once those are established, the story has to be believable inside these rules.

Logic is very important at the center of your film. You build the world and set the rules, but if you break them you destroy the logic of your story. Set the boundaries within the story. Then work in them to surprise us.

5. Have your characters live. Discover them as you write them.

This is the process Tarantino used for one of his best characters ever written, Hans Landa. Spend time with your characters. Really get to know them. You have to understand how they think about the world and how they feel in order to make them seem real.

6. Always store each character you write separately in your database. You can always use all or part of a character for another script.

I think that’s a brilliant idea. If an idea for the scenario doesn’t work in a script, you can open up another idea and see if those folks can populate the world. Sometimes you can use mirror images of characters from different scripts. Just like Tarantino did Reservoir Dogs and pulp fiction with the Vega brothers.

7. Create a detailed backstory for the character, but don’t reveal everything to an audience. Let the audience fill in the blanks themselves and create their own film.

Developing your characters so that you understand their motivation for everything is incredibly important. You don’t have to put everything on screen, but it will come in handy when casting someone who needs to impersonate the role.

8th. Think of tension as a rubber band. The longer the rubber band can stretch, the more exciting it is.

The opening scene in Inglourious Basterds is more exciting at 22 minutes than at 8. That’s because we have characters and a situation that keep us in suspense. We’re excited while we’re agonizing over when the band will break. Tarantino knows this and goes as far as he can.

9. If the scene you write works and lasts and ends up being 40 pages long, you should keep it in the film.

That’s what Tarantino did with the basement scene Inglourious Basterds. There are many “rules” in screenwriting and they’re all bullshit. People want scenes to work. You don’t worry about how long they are or how many characters are in them. They want to be entertained. Never shy away from it.

10. Always try to surprise yourself with your writing. The best way to keep your writing fresh is to always start from scratch as if it were your first screenplay.

Challenge yourself. When you get good at writing one thing, try something else. Always refine and sharpen your skills. make you work for it The best ideas and scenes come from combat. They come from you because you strive to do your best. Don’t back down.

EXTRA TIP – It’s hard work going to that blank sheet of paper and starting over every single time. But it’s more rewarding to write your own films. That’s the only way to keep your vote.

Your only goal should be that the reader never puts the script down. Use your voice to entertain and explain the story for them. Make sure your beats keep people interested and hooked on the storylines. Deliver something exciting that feels like it could switch or draw people in at every turn.

Now start writing!

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