Chris Landa of Salt Lake City, Utah, wrote in to say:
I just finished reading your scripts of D.C. Do you have a series bible that you could put on your site? I’m trying to find examples of series bibles and would love to find out what happens to the characters of D.C.
A series “bible” is a document that’s usually created at the start of a television series, which contains all the vital information about the characters, their history, and relationships. The idea is that you update it as you go along, so that in season four, you don’t have a character saying something that conflicts with something in season two.
Apparently, some showrunners go much further, and really do map out years ahead. J. Michael Straczynski is said to have plotted out all of the seasons of Babylon 5 before even starting to shoot the pilot.
All this said, I’ve never even seen a real series bible. Perhaps that’s because I’ve never worked on a show that lasted more than three episodes.
But Chris’s question brought up a point I keep trying to make: a writer’s job doesn’t start and end at the script. Particularly in television, a writer needs to be able to write a lot of different kinds of documents, many of which are designed to get others to share his or her vision for the show.
I’ve added five examples of this from D.C. in the Downloads section. Included you’ll find:
- the initial pitch I made to the WB
- the outline for the pilot
- a template for a “normal” episode
- and an exercise in which I look at God from each character’s perspective.
Also included is the pilot presentation script. In order to save money, the WB asked all its drama pilots to shoot a 30-minute version of the show (called a “pilot presentation”), rather than the whole hour. To do this, I had to omit a bunch of scenes, and rewrite some others so that it would all make sense. If it sounds like a difficult task, it was. When we got ordered for series, the first thing we had to do was go back and shoot the missing scenes from the pilot.