Screenwriting : Show Bible by David Levy

David Levy

Show Bible

Curious, does everyone write their show bible and Pilot script at the same time or focus on the pilot script first and take time on the show bible? I feel if I write character pages it helps me write a better script at the same time. Do some people even do a show bible or just write the TV Pilot?

James Chalker

When I did my pilot, I wrote the pilot first and then the show bible. Don't see why you couldn't write the bible first, if you feel it helps you write the pilot. It's like using the bible as an outline.

D Marcus

Some people do not write the bible until the show has been picked up. Some people start with the bible and then write the pilot and episodes. Your method seem like a good one. I've written several pilot scripts but never a bible. I won't do that until the series is given a "go". It takes a lot of work to write a bible and from day one through pitches and meetings and network/cable/streaming needs and building the team and casting the overall story will change and grow. Which means the bible will change and grow. I prefer to wait until the team is put together to write it.

Elle Craib

^^^I agree with the above ^^^ Unless you need the bible to help you creatively you really do not need to worry about it while you are trying to put together your pilot.

Molly N. Moss

I wrote the show bible before the pilot script, but that's because the setting is the driving force of the show. I needed a ton of background story and geographical details to be able to write the pilot script. Characters who grew up in the setting would make reference to local legends and persons of interest; I had to know what the local legends were and who the persons of interest are, for that to come out in the script. :-) Unless your series is meant to have a rich backstory and/or geography, though, you probably don't need a series bible to write the pilot. Let your concept guide you, I'd say.

Danny Manus

I'm not sure it matters when you do it - that's a personal choice I suppose. But after interviewing Mickey Fisher, creator of Extant, he made it clear that if he had not done the bible and knew everything about his series, he wouldn't have been kept on as a writer/producer because he was new to the TV World. It was his bible and the fact that HE was the expert of his show, that made Spielberg keep him. So...I highly suggest doing a bible if you can.

Jeremy Kriss

Danny Manus? Here? I used to love reading your column on the BOSI. Thanks for all the valuable advice/suggestions/comments over the years. I always looked forward to your pieces for a bit of "Truth that hits you in the forehead."

David Levy

I feel the development that goes into the character sheets can only help create better characters for the script. It helps me add better backstory and development of the character, not just their lines but emotional and physical development as well.

Bruce Marich

A complete Bible is the first thing I do. I include the characters into the Bible along with the a complete market study and I work on the scripts secondary.

Jonathan Kramer

Interesting comments both pro and con here. And very timely since I am working on an idea for a show that will eventually go multi-platform once we produce the pilot and other short episodes for a web series. Mike Jones, mikejones.tv, seems to feel that the bible is essential as is doing a bang up job creating the story world. After studying "Byte Sized Television" and Rabkin's book in "Writing the Pilot" neither of them refer to a bible which I find interesting. Regardless what seems to be the consensus is that the bible is something that is important and will change as the show evolves.

Danny Manus

Aw shucks, thanks, Jeremy! really appreciate that! I kinda miss that column...just not BOSI lol but yes I'm on here! And still writing for ScriptMag too!

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