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08/11/2007: Advanced Blasphemy
Today, Gentle Readers, I'm here to tell you to FORGET ABOUT THE BIBLE. Forget it! Ignore it! It's totally unnecessary! Spec pilots, such as you're writing, don't need to be accompanied by show bibles.
This is in answer to a question from Gentle Reader Ellen in Chicago, who wondered if writing three specs a year, as I urged in an earlier post, meant that one would have to write three separate show bibles. Nope. Not even one.
A show bible, if this is a new term to you, is a document that bridges the gap between the pilot script and the hypothetical television series that would result from it. It lays out the arcs of the characters and the show as a whole over at least one projected season of the show. It can also get into character details and back story and description/analysis of the world in which the show is set. Now, this is certainly work you can do on your own, and much of it you probably will do on your own - in your head - even if you don't actually write it down. This information will be very helpful in the writing of the script, but it is not anything that would ever have to accompany the script.
When I'm writing a pilot for a studio, I have told them all about how I see the show developing. If they were seriously considering ordering the show, they would have me write it all up, but it's just not something you do in the early stages.
This means, of course, that your script has to stand on its own as a cold read. A reader has to be able to pick it up and understand who these people are and what's going on without any supporting documents to tell them. And they have to finish the script with a good idea of how the main conflicts are going to continue into the future lives of the characters. This sounds tricky, but it's really not. Have you ever joined a movie midstream? Unless it was a very plot-twisty movie, you probably found that you were able to infer a lot about the characters and their relationships as you watched. "Oh, I think she's that guy's sister, and he's mad at that really uptight guy..." So forget the bible, take your foot off the exposition pedal, and let the viewer's understanding evolve.
Lunch: sushi at Echigo, the place with the warm rice. Get the lunch special. They bring you one perfect bite every few minutes.