You know the old song? The one with the partridge and drummers and all that annoying stuff that nobody really wants to get for Christmas? To change it up, I'm going to list twelve gift suggestions for the writer in your life, one new idea a day for the next twelve days so keep checking in! Things they absolutely will want a lot more noisy geese a'laying and a'poopin' all over the place.
On the 6th Day - Omelettes!
There are just some rules of great writing that are as undeniable as gravity, water is wet, and things on the stove are hot. That’s why as a young exec I would get frustrated for our writers when The Powers That Be would simply shrug their shoulders at a draft and say “Make it better.” (Seriously, that happened)
Then I read the book that changed my perspective forever - John Truby’s “The Anatomy of Story.” Just as the textbook “Gray’s Anatomy” (yes, there really is a book, not just a series but it’s not the same, trust me) outlines the parts of the body and how they all work together, Truby’s book lays out the foundation of what any story – book, film or TV – needs to come to life.
As Amazon describes it, “Truby's method for constructing a story is at once insightful and practical, focusing on the hero's moral and emotional growth. As a result, writers will dig deep within and explore their own values and worldviews in order to create an effective story. Writers will come away with an extremely precise set of tools to work with… and they will learn how to express a moral vision that can genuinely move an audience.”
Warning: this book is not for the hobbyist or the writer who has already written a screenplay and is looking for validation. Be prepared to burn it all down and start from scratch. This is dense material that you’ll have to read over an over again and then refer back to as you write. It will also open your eyes to concepts you knew, but couldn’t articulate and put to practice.
Future audiences who are about to get some great stories told because of this book – you’re welcome.
5 Golden Rings Would be Pretty Cool...
While it’s easy to reach for that box of wine as your go to stress reducer, as a gift you should try to the far classier solution of a sound bath.
If you’ve never been to one, treat yourself and go with the person you’re giving it as a gift. It’s an ancient way of meditating while a specially trained person plays a series of notes and tones on metal and crystal bowls. Per this Washington Post article, it’s been “scientifically linked to reductions in stress and anxiety.” To get more info, go here to read the whole article.
I recently participated in an incredible sound bath/reiki combo at Planet Namaste in Burbank and can honestly say it left me feeling completely relaxed and rested. The best part? If you live in LA they do it the first Friday of every month on a donation basis so anyone can afford it. Just remember karma’s a bitch if you cheap out on these ladies offering this amazing experience.
No matter where you live, just Google “sound baths near me” and you’ll be sure to find one.
Day 4 - Calling Birds, Or Calls From an Agent?
Neil Cross (LUTHER; DOCTOR WHO; HARD SUN) says, “The last few years have seen the appearance of several OS X applications designed for the use of writers. Many of these applications are very good — but every one is in some way lacking. I've tried them all, and none has been more than a temporary home; a good place to stay until something better came along. And guess what — it finally did. Scrivener incorporates and improves the best aspects of its progenitors and, in doing so, exceeds them all. As a writer's application, Scrivener is damn near perfect; it means outlines, treatments and then first drafts can be put together in the same application.”
The best part for gift givers? It comes with a 30 day free trial so the object of your affection can see if they like it before you have to shell out any money. Happy Holidays all around!
Day 3 - Who Needs 3 French Hens?
The cure you need way more than a chicken.
Does anyone even know what a French Hen is? Nonetheless why you need three of them? But what every writer will need at some point though is a cure for writer's block. Here it is in a delightful soap or candle form! Will it work? Can't hurt!
Because what everyone can use is a good laugh, and the folks at the Whiskey River Soap company are happy to provide it. From their website: "All product ideas are conceived in a now-defunct underground military training facility in an undisclosed location and transmitted via (low sodium) soup can to our brand-new, state-of-the-art, mid-century-modern-but-not-totally-IKEA offices in like Burbank or Dubuque. Somewhere like that."
Or, you could buy the gift of script notes or one-on-one coaching for excellent advice on how to hone your voice and make your script jump to the top of the pile. Buy any of my services now and cash in when you need them most!
On the Second Day of Christmas...
Teas to inspire you...
Because everyone writes better with a good pot of tea, Simpson & Vail have made a gift box of teas named after literary greats. Maybe some day they'll make a set for screenwriters, but in the meantime brew up a cup of Edgar Allan Poe's Black Tea Blend or Louisa May Alcott's Green Tea Blend and think of the movie adaptations you could write!
"Enjoy a sampling of ten of the most popular teas in our literary line! Our literary (author) teas have been very popular since they were introduced in the Fall of 2015 and we add two new authors every year.
This gift box features the following authors in the line: Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, Beatrix Potter, William Shakespeare and Walt Whitman.
Each package makes approximately 6-10 cups of tea and is labeled with a colorful Literary label that lists the ingredients and brewing information for each tea.
Packaged in a lovely black gift box, lined with an elegant black and white floral patterned tissue, and sealed with a decorative label, this author collection is perfect for you and your literary tea friends."
They also carry a wide assortment of other teas to choose from.
They print anywhere from 15 – 40,000 words, depending if you chose to print on a t-shirt, infinity scarf, poster, bag, pillow or blanket. You can choose from twelve colors and four fonts to create your masterpiece.
Order SOON to be guaranteed it arrives by Christmas.
The nice thing is you’ll also be helping spread the word. “Litographs is committed to promoting literacy, both at home and abroad. Since 2012, we have donated over 200,000 books to communities in need through the International Book Bank. Our favorite place to hang Litographs posters is in classrooms and libraries, and we love working with teachers and librarians to encourage conversations around books.”
Of course, you can always take the easy way out and buy your writer the gift of script notes so they can see their work on the 55" screen and not just a pillow!