WHAT CAN HAPPEN OFFSCREEN
With one notable exception (24
), episodes in a TV series do not take place back to back. Time elapses between the end of one and the beginning of another. What rules do you have to follow about what can happen in this offscreen time?
Generally, the rule during an episode is that nothing important to the story can happen offscreen. Sometimes you have to have some important event take place offscreen because you can't afford to put it onscreen, but it's likely to feel like a cheat.
You can take the curse off
the cheat if you come in right after the offscreen event with the point of view character's strong emotional reaction
to the offscreen event.
The same is generally true between episodes. You don't want important things to transpire off screen; after all, we're watching because we want to see these things happen. But if you can't show the events, start with the character's reaction to them.
As a corollary, you really must not have more than one event that's important to the story happen offscreen at once. (This follows the Rule of One
), because then you'd have to show the point of view character's reactions to both events, and they would muddle each other.