The Helpful Reviewer

Legs of a Show & Show Bible

Saturday, November 16, 2019

When coming up with an idea for a TV show, as opposed to a feature film idea, one has to see if said idea has enough story to last for a number of years, or as it is commonly thought of, for 100 episodes. For a show to be incredible profitable, sindication after its original run is a must. And for sindication to occur, it’s commonly said that a show with over 100 episodes is best for sindication (as it can run 3 times in a year, once a day during weekdays, without much repetition). Thus, when thinking of an idea for a pilot, it is fundamental to analyze if said idea can go on for seasons and seasons, if the characters have a lot to explore, if there’s a goal to follow, a rich arc (and arcs for different seasons), and an overall story you want to tell with your show.

A good way to show producers and managers/agents that your show has “legs” is to write a solid show Bible. That’s a document you write to include in your pitch (as opposed to more episodes, which isn’t always best, unless you’re producing it yourself, as when they buy a pilot, a lot of notes are given, and a lot might change, so it could be a big waste of time to write more episodes). The Bible should include the fundamental facts of your show, comparisons, an overview, why this show/why now, why you’re the best and right writer to write that specific idea, world, character descriptions, character interactions, season 1 arc, future episode ideas, among others. You should write a document that is so rich, that we can see the characters, see their arcs, and imagine years and years with them. Usually a show Bible is a document that is written by the show creator so that the writers’ room can basically be in his/her head, knowing as much about the show as possible. We might not see what’s in the Bible on the screen for years. We might never see it all. But the point is to create three-dimensional characters that feel so real, and so deep, that we can easily see how they can populate a show and have rich stories to tell for years to come just by reading the Bible. That’s what producers want when they’re being pitched a series—to see such deep, interesting characters and stories that they can see the legs of the show.


Cody Smart

Cody Smart

Reviewer

Cody is an independent writer and script doctor from Santiago, Chile. She attended the prestigious Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where she double majored in English Literature and Linguistics, with a minor in Dramatic Literature. She moved to L.A. and got her MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy, Universal Studios location, while at the same time working at Sony Pictures as a reader and story analyst. She also received two Certificates from UCLA, in Development and Producing for Film and TV.

Aside from her years of experience as a studio reader, she’s a judge for multiple script and film competitions, has written some award-winning short films and feature film scripts, she’s been working as a script analyst and doctor for years helping writers take their scripts to the next level, and is currently the head of the coverage department at Story Data.