TV Series bible format

Discussion in 'Basics' started by awtcleaner1, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. awtcleaner1

    awtcleaner1 Guest

    Hi all

    Perhaps not quite a basic, but if anyone could point me in the right direction, that would be great too...

    I am working on assembling a bible for a series I've been developing for nearly a year. Wondering if anyone can answer a few questions about format:

    Is there a definitive bible format or does it depend on one's particular situation? (As for my particular situation-- film school grad, some introductory work writing/directing in the industry so far-- goal is to prepare a good bible and pilot, attach a producer to the project, present to and get backed by a production house, and then present to broadcasters.)

    I ask because I've receiving answers ranging from the very minimal and brisk
    -- say, 5 pages), to the very expanded:

    I have worked out the details of my project fairly thoroughly, and could write as much as I need to. Content is not a problem, but of course I'd like to be as short and sweet as possible.

    Any advice much appreciated! Also, does anyone know if there are any examples of bibles online? Haven't had any luck finding any so far...

  2. Blank

    Blank Guest

    Hi there, I looked around on Google for the longest time trying to find examples of Bible's for a series I was working on developing a few months ago. To make a long story short, i didn't find a single real example of a bible. I did find many instances where professionals openly admitted that they never actually use or make bibles, and I also found instaces of people saying without a bible you got nothing.

    In conclusion I think bibles are pretty scenerio specific. Some producersmay want one, some may not. The best advice I can offer is to just start sending queries out giving a brief explanation of the show and tell them if they are interested to tell you what exactly they want to see. If they want a bible I am sure they will give you the details as to what they personally expect in a bible, otherwise you may get to send a pilot script right away.

    Good luck!
  3. craktactor

    craktactor Moderator

  4. Population17

    Population17 Bronze Member




  5. tresjolie

    tresjolie Guest

    PM me if you're looking for series bibles.
  6. awtcleaner1

    awtcleaner1 Guest

    Thanks for the link.

    Won't let me PM w/out 15 posts, but would very much like to check some out!
  7. lurkk

    lurkk Guest

    I am unable to post a link because of too few posts but if you go to there are a few examples.
  8. davidartiste

    davidartiste Silver Member

    Okay, here is a subject I can be fairly confident to talk about as I have just finished mine. I have stated before that brother in law is an emmy award winning director and editor and he helped me immensly with this. I am passing on the wisdom to you kind folk.

    The first thing you need to know is that there is no industry format like a script. They come in different shapes and sizes, are all put together a little differently and are stylistically different from bible to bible. What they have in common is the guts, so to speak of a show. I will get more into this later.

    The true purpose of a series bible is for your writing staff and future writing staff. It is there, because writers come and go from tv shows at a relatively high rate, so it is imperritive that a new writer understand the who, what, where, when and how of the show. This way the new writer won't dress Clark Kent in a Batman outfit. The secondary reason is for selling a spec show. This way the producer/agent/manager/studio has a sense of your show, where it is headed and how long to expect it to run. It tells them if you have thought out your story archs or are you just an "idea guy". Believe me they get hit daily with "Ideas". 99.99% are crap and are tossed out. They want to see fleshed out stuff.

    *Note- This is not a film treatment or movie script. The rules are different.

    So what is in a good series bible? What is this meat I speak of? Well here you go.

    1. Title of Show
    2. Series Created by, ___________
    3. Genre(s)_________
    4. Length of Show________(30 min, 1 hour, etc etc)
    5. References ___________(Battlestar Gallactica meets Queer Eye For The Straight Guy) or something like that.
    6. Tag Line
    7. Log Line
    8. Series Synopsis (This should be no more than 200 words. 150 is ideal)
    9.Character List and Description (Unlike a treatment which you only post your main characters, in a Bible you list ALL characters.[primary, secondary, cameos etc etc] and keep the description to 1-3 sentences each.)

    10.Episode Synopsis ( each episode needs a 1 paragraph/4 sentence summary)
    *note- Figure out what channel you are targeting at. HBO, SHOWTIME etc usually are from 10-12 episodes per seoson. Network TV is 24. Also aim your show for the right channel. There is no universal show that can work well on any channel.

    **note- You only need to prep for one complete season. Some do more, but really, 1 season is enough.

    11.Additional information that is useful for the reader. Maybe a glossary of terms (example, a star trek show has special words and terms and expressions. These need to be notated.)

    *note- Assume your reader has never heard of what you are writing about and supply all the information necessary to understand it.

    12. A One-sheet (this is a visual aid/cue to help them imagine the show. It is most commonly a moque poster with the title and tagline)

    13. Episode outlines (The meat of your show.)
    *note- without this you are toast. every episode in your first season needs a complete break down. What happens to whom and how and why and when and where. This shows your episode archs as well as your season archs. Do you characters grow and change from the beginning to the end? This is the true test of your show. without the outlines the studio/agent/manager/producer will not waste his/her time with you.

    Last but not least, at least 1 completed episode, but 2 is better.

    Hope this helps.
  9. Yeah, David hit it on the head. Bible's are harder to make than scripts IMO. As Mr. artiste mentioned, it's a totally different writing style and format is not a big issue. Focus on interesting, grabbing writing. A bible is where you can go artistic and make it "shine."

    Also, the OP mentioned getting a producer on board and then looking for broadcasters. That is a valid approach but think about this: why would a producer want to be on board if there is no interest from broadcasters yet?
    TV broadcasters hold all the cards. Without them, a "TV" show is useless. Talk to them first. Get interest from the broadcasters and ask them which producers they like to work with.
    Any old shmuck producer might agree to take on the project. But he may not have a good working relationship with any broadcasters.

    Broadcasters are who you need interest from. Producing something is a waste of money without a venue for it.
  10. HUmberto Hidalgo

    HUmberto Hidalgo Bronze Member

    A similar question was posted on Done Deal. Lurkk is right there are some examples on

    The consensus was that a bible is usually what a writer is paid to do. That doesn't mean that having it before pitching a show would be bad. Getting a chance to pitch a show as new writer, I would probably want to know every facet to my little created universe.

    Creating a good strong pilot should be priority. A pilot should show the potential to become a good series. Summing that up into one episode, is already quite daunting.

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