I get asked this so often, that I suppose its worth answering the question yet again. I received this email today:
In my search for bible writing info, I came across your site and read the ongoing discussion about series bibles. I’m a beginning writer and have come up with what I think maybe a very good idea for a television series. The only series bible I can find is for He-Man and it’s hard to relate that to
what I’m writing. I’ve found only tidbits of information about what is
included in a bible. I really want to know how a bible is structured – what to
put in and leave out. I know you’re an experienced writer with an understanding
of all the formats of television, books and film. I’d be extremely grateful
for any information you could give me – websites, books or just an email with helpful info.
I replied that I have several bibles, also known as writers guidelines, available on my website and in my book SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING. That said, it’s a complete and utter waste of your time to write one. Networks and studios don’t buy bibles… they buy scripts and they buy experience. Ideas are cheap, execution is everything. No one cares about your idea. No one is interested in hearing it. No one will buy a series from you until you have established yourself as a writer. Stick the idea in a drawer and wait until someone at a studio or network approaches you and says "Hey, have any great ideas for a TV series?" That’s the hard truth.
UPDATE 4-13-05: I got a response this morning from the person who posed the question. Here it is:
Thanks for the sobering message. Is that true for everything? Even animated comedic
series costs $50 million — they aren’t going to entrust that money to someone who doesn’t have the experience to pull it off. I know what you’re thinking… I’ll pitch my idea to someone with experience and they can sell it. The thing is, the people with experience want to sell their own ideas because, for years,
they have been toiling on other people’s shows, itching for a chance to do something of their own. Besides, creating your own show, and owning a piece of it, is where the money is.
Why would they want to share that with you?
In the case of an animated comedy show, the creators have usually proven themselves, and had great success, elsewhere…either with animated shorts, features, games, comic books, etc. Matt Groening had a hit comic strip… and then a series of hit shorts on TRACY ULLMAN SHOW….and that led to THE SIMPSONS.