This holiday season will be unlike any other with COVID-19 still keeping us apart from family members who live far away and everyone tightening their belts and keeping a closer eye on the budget. Whether you’re looking for ideas for the screenwriter in your life or simply looking to treat yourself this holiday season, here are some great gifts for writers everywhere.
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Best Free Gift Ideas for Screenwriters
This list has plenty of gift ideas for every budget, but you don’t have to spend a cent to give the screenwriter in your life a great holiday gift. In fact, to start things off, here are some great screenwriting gift ideas that won’t cost you a thing.
This amazing free gift started as a way for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program to give back to the community as COVID-19 anxiety grew. Some of the courses available include:
- Character Arcs, the Lifeblood of Your Story — with John Henry Davis
- Winning a TV Writing Fellowship to Jumpstart Your Career — with Ron McCants and Kristine Huntley
- Writer Friendly Careers (Webinar)
Arc Studio Pro Screenwriting Software (Free Version)
The free version of this powerful, intuitive screenwriting software platform is the perfect gift for any new screenwriter. It comes with tons of features to help you write, format, customize, backup, and share your screenplay including:
- Cloud storage
- Watermarked PDF downloads
- Automatic backups
- A clean, beautiful interface
- and the ability to work on (2) scripts on the free plan
This browser-based screenwriting tool is one of the best free screenwriting options you can get and is a great alternative to more expensive writing software that can cost hundreds of dollars. If writers want even more features, they can upgrade to the Pro version of Arc Studio Pro for 50% off ($49/year) before the end of the year for the mobile writing app, offline desktop version, unlimited scripts, custom formats, saved history versions, the ability to invite collaborators to work on your screenplay, and a lot more.
Whichever option you choose, Arc Studio Pro is a powerful screenwriting tool for new and professional screenwriters alike.
A used screenwriting book (Free!)
2020 has been the year we all tried to declutter our homes. Why not take a book that inspired you and give it to a writer? I know I’ve treasured used books gifted after hearing someone thought of me while reading it. Whether it’s a book about writing, a novel you loved, or some remarkable non-fiction, we could all use some time away from screens at the end of long days of video conferencing. Here are just a few examples:
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
Read Your Friend’s Script (Free)
Honestly, the best things in life are free. If you can support your screenwriter friend with honest, open feedback about their script it will mean the world to them. Make a little coupon that entitles the owner to “1 Free Script Review” and you’ll make their day. We all want to share our passions with the people closest to us. And it doesn’t hurt that getting script feedback is one of the simplest ways to improve your screenplay.
Best Gifts for Screenwriters Under $5
Pilot G2 Pens ($5)
Not every screenplay is written on a laptop. In fact, plenty of writers (like Taika Waititi) hate typing. Get these pens to spark offline creativity. They’re a time-tested favorite for many writers.
Notecards ($6) or Sticky notes ($6.70)
What good is a pen without something to write on? Lots of professional screenwriters use notecards and sticky notes to organize their story structure and plot ideas. Why? Because it just plain works.
Yes, these gifts are technically over $5, but it’s close enough. A package of Post-It Notes will always be appreciated by the analog-inclined writer in your life. Plus, they make a great stocking stuffer.
An Introduction to Screenwriting — eBook ($0.99)
This eBook from our friends at ScreenCraft is perfect for screenwriters who may have used their time inside this year to write their first screenplay. It covers all the basics of screenwriting, like formatting, and includes advice from top screenwriters, Hollywood producers, literary managers, and studio executives.
ScreenCraft has other great eBooks about a variety of subjects around screenwriting. There’s something for everyone there. Check out the site for more.
That’s What She Wrote —eBook ($4.99)
This eBook (written by yours truly!) is for the women writers in your life or for anyone who wants to explore and learn more about the journey of women screenwriters in the film industry. Filled with interviews, tips, and firsthand accounts of different women writers, this eBook will inspire any writer.
Best Screenwriting Gifts Under $20
300 Writing Prompts – Book ($10.85)
I love this one. I actually have this one myself. This list of hundreds of prompts is a great way to keep anyone writing every day or to simply use this when you feel creatively blocked.
Writer Emergency Pack – Card game/idea machine ($16.99)
Say goodbye to writer’s block with these fun illustrated idea cards from screenwriter John August (Big Fish). The pack is a mix of 26 image cards and 236 “detail” cards to inspire writers whenever they feel stuck. Honestly, these are just a fun gift for any writer, no matter what they’re working on. Highly recommend.
‘Writer’ Hat ($16-23)
This gift idea comes with instructions. I recommend giving this hat to the writer in your life who, since COVID-19, has not been able to hide out in a coffee shop and write. Especially those with a spouse, roommates, children, etc, all either working from home or doing remote learning. You know, the writers who are constantly being distracted while they are trying to write.
The idea is to use this hat as a signal to everyone else in the home. If the hat is on, the writer is working. Please no distractions with questions or issues that can wait.
Or, you might want to buy the hat for yourself and simply tell everyone in your home, “Unless the house is on fire, do not speak to me until this hat comes off.” If you’ve got a grammar nerd in the house, you might want to opt for one of their…more sarcastic options.
Write It, Pitch It, Sell Your Screenplay: A Hollywood Buyer’s Insider Guide to Getting Your Script Part the Gatekeepers – Book ($19.99)
This is one of my favorite screenwriting books of all time. It’s easy to read and filled with tips for anyone who’s ready to take their script to the next level. There’s also an audiobook version, for the writers who love to multi-task.
Best Gifts Under $50 for Screenwriters
Arc Studio Pro – Screenwriting software ($49/year)
The free version of Arc Studio Pro is great for new and emerging screenwriters. But if you want to take your script to the next level, the pro version is packed with features like collaboration, the ability to see the version history of your script, custom formats, comments, and even the ability to export your screenplay in Fountain and Final Draft formats.
Arc Studio Pro is currently 50% off for life until the end of the year. Just in time for a fantastic holiday gift.
ScreenCraft Screenwriting eCourses ($39-$49)
If you liked the library of ScreenCraft ebooks, you’ll love the more in-depth screenwriting courses they offer. And they’re all under $50. Probably the best value out there for anyone looking to get started or looking to develop their craft some more. You can sign up for these, one at a time and complete them on your own schedule, dedicating just one hour a day to writing. All of the courses are less than $50. Choose from options like:
- Develop Your Action & Thriller Movie Idea in 15 Days
- Write Your Screenplay in 60 Days
- Write Your Short Film in 7 Days
Starbucks Coffee at Home ($30)
Nothing compares to the experience of sitting at a Starbucks and writing all day. Until we can safely do that, why not give someone some Starbucks coffee that can be brewed at home? For more options check out the Starbucks site.
Best Screenwriting Gift Under $100
WeScreenplay Script Coverage ($69.99 and up)
If you want to improve your screenplay, you need quality feedback from industry professionals. That’s where script coverage comes in. WeScreenplay has some great coverage options starting as low as $69.99 for Classic Coverage, and $99.99 for Bespoke Coverage, each of which includes:
- Quick turnaround (72 hours)
- 4 pages of detailed notes
- Character, Plot, Structure, Dialogue, and Concept Analysis
- A “Pass,” “Consider,” or “Recommend” rating (industry standard)
- An overall impression that will highlight extra factors like voice
- Qualitative scores to help compare your progress
- Your analyst’s bio
Bespoke Coverage also includes a customized marketing blueprint to analyze how your script accomplishes any specific screenwriting goals. If you want to splurge, the Comprehensive Script Coverage Package includes all of the above as well as in-line notes, detailed suggestions for any changes, and even a follow-up question for more info on your screenplay.
Best Screenwriting Gifts: Splurges ($100 and up)
MasterClass quickly became a must-have in 2020 as everyone scrambled for ways to make their quarantine life more productive. And rightly so. Learn from screenwriting pros without leaving your home. Some of the best screenwriting classes include:
- Shonda Rhimes – Writing for Television (30 video lessons)
- Aaron Sorkin – Screenwriting (35 video lessons)
- Judd Apatow – Comedy (32 video lessons)
- Spike Lee – Independent Filmmaking (19 video lessons)
These aren’t just one and done video lessons. These are deep dive courses with dozens of video lessons from some of the top industry pros in the film and screenwriting industry. That’s why it’s listed in the $100 category. It’s going to take you a while to get through even one of these courses. Luckily, there’s an offer to give one membership and get one free. So you can give yourself a little something, too!
Considered the industry standard for screenwriting, Final Draft is the ultimate professional screenwriting software. If you know someone that is serious about becoming a working screenwriter, Final Draft is how most working professionals write and share their scripts with agents, managers and studio execs. Final Draft is a great piece of software with a lot of easy to use features and powerful tools like:
- Revision tracking
- “Story Map” outlines
- Customizable watermarks
- Colored pages
- and industry-standard formatting
Cloud-based screenwriting software is becoming more popular these days. There are a lot of advantages to being able to access your script from anywhere. There’s even a free version for anybody who would like to try and out. After that, the monthly subscription starts as low as $7.99 (or $89/year). And if you want to give the biggest gift under the (virtual) tree, you can opt for the full lifetime version for $199.
Any way you gift it, Writer Duet is sure to bring a giddy grin to any screenwriter’s face.
Holiday Gift Guide for Screenwriters
Hope you enjoyed this list of gifts for the screenwriters in your life (even if it’s you!). The end of the year is always a great time to reflect and set some goals for the following year. You might be wanting to finally tackle that rewrite or might be prepping to write something new in 2020. Maybe you’re getting ready to go out and pitch your script somewhere, whatever your goals may be for 2021, remember to keep writing!
Julia Camara is an award-winning Brazilian screenwriter/filmmaker. Julia won a Telly Award for the sci-fi found footage feature Occupants. Julia’s feature directorial debut In Transit, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. Julia’s other writing credits include Area Q and Open Road.