Originally Posted by juunit
Yes, you need a bible. Unless your plan is to never sell your show.
Also, I don't know where people are getting these page counts from, but just as an example, the bible for THE WIRE was 79 pages. FREAKS AND GEEKS was 55. So 20 being huge isn't accurate. Although with that being said, they vary wildly. TRUE DETECTIVE was only 10. LOST was 27, I think. As far as rules go, series bibles probably have the fewest adhered to of almost anything in the industry.
Basically, you want to introduce your series. The series, not just the pilot. The idea of the bible is to convince people that there are multiple seasons worth of episodes for your idea. Every single bible I've ever seen includes some sort of introduction, character descriptions and specific episode ideas. Many also include set details, because every TV show has sets which they reuse to keep costs down. So maybe a primary set and secondary set section, if applicable.
The more concrete you can make things, the better. So if you can say, "this is episode 2, this is episode 3, etc." all the better than just randomly throwing in some ideas for an episode here and there. Like in THE WIRE bible, they've got 3-4 pages for each episode, essentially entirely outlines for every one, even including specific dialogue that would be used. Same goes for including details about a character's specific arc throughout one or multiple seasons. If you can, then great.
Details, details, details.
This isn't true in my experience. A great pilot will get you in the room, and from there — assuming you have something approximating a bible in your own head — you can absolutely sell a show based on a verbal pitch alone.
Bibles, in reality, are WGA-covered documents that have their own built in minimums, etc. Don't give that milk away for free. Pitching **** verbally is what they get for free, and it should be a skill in your toolbox you're actively working on if you don't have a refined verbal skill set yet. It's paramount, honestly.
I truly believe you're better off churning out multiple pilots for different shows and having a loose sense of where each show goes than putting all of your time, energy, and proverbial eggs into a bible of one show. Buyers want to be involved, and they will have their own ideas. Showrunners will attach and have their own ideas. Setting everything in stone from the outset (which a bible effectively does) is not a great move, in my opinion. For now your pilot should just allude to and SPEAK TO a potential show, that's all. And then you get on the phone or, better yet, in the room and engage the potential buyer or creative partner in a dialogue and it will come to life that way.
THEN, when the time is right and the right pieces are in place, you write a bible (and make sure it's included in your deal).