With the holidays upon us, you might be wondering what to buy for your favorite screenwriter. I have a list of ideas for what the writer in your life might not only love, but could also make good use of for their career.
1. Writing Supplies
I’m really old school when it comes to my method for pounding out my stories. Even though it’s more time consuming, I like to outline my scripts and write the first drafts with pen and paper. This may be because I started writing in 1991, but it is also scientifically proven that there is a neurological advantage to writing things out by hand. If it helps your creativity, I say do it! Therefore, good gifts could be a basket of supplies like pens, highlighters, index cards, post-it-notes, notebook paper, spiral notebooks, printer paper, printer ink, folders, bulletin boards, and thumb tacks (whew! See how many supplies we use?).
2. Screenwriting Books
I started reading screenwriting books before I started writing, and it surprises me how many people would prefer other methods than reading a book about their craft. However, I have found that reading books about screenwriting is some of the most thorough instruction you can get.
The first screenwriting book I ever read was Successful Scriptwriting by Jurgen Wolff & Kerry Cox that had a character list in it that I have added to and use to this day; their book also had some neat ideas of how to get organized business-wise, since being a screenwriter, you are essentially self-employed. It was the only screenwriting book in my public library at the time.
Eventually, though, I found out about Screenplay by Syd Field, which I always recommend as the first screenwriting book to read to all my students who are just starting out. For rewrites, I always used Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger, and a very deep and theoretical option is Story by Robert McKee. My favorite, though, is Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias, and I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I didn’t include my own book, The Secret of Life Through Screenwriting, which will eventually change the way stories are told.
3. Screenwriting Software
My favorite discovery in my evolution as a screenwriter was screenwriting software. Before my family got a computer, I used to write on a Word Processor, and it was indeed a laborious task because it was not formatted the way a screenplay should be—which I’m sure you can relate to if you’ve been trying to type your screenplays in Word. My software of choice is Movie Magic Screenwriter by Write Brothers, largely because I’m also a producer and they have scheduling and budgeting software that is compatible, which your loved one will definitely need if they are an independent filmmaker, but the other most popular option is Final Draft.
4. Webinars and Courses
Even though I have been writing and producing for decades, there are always skills to learn for the first time or to brush up on. I’ve taken webinars and courses on script reading, TV budgets, finding investors, and playwriting just to name a few. My favorite resources for webinars and courses are Stage 32, Roadmap Writers, The Writers Store, and Script University.
I hope that these four gift ideas have given you a place to get started for shopping for that fellow screenwriter in your life, or to gift to yourself. One of the above gifts shows that you believe in your loved one’s dreams, and this supports them in their career. Or you can look at it as an investment in yourself. Either way, happy holidays!
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