Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…


So I saw Guardians of the Galaxy the other day and it was pretty wow. Normally I don’t go in for Hollywood Mega Franchise Sequel Cash Cow Summer Blockbusters, but I’d seen the first one, had a gut feeling I wasn’t going to enjoy the new Alien movie, and was hankering for popcorn, so we went for it.

I’m not going to do a full-on review of the film, it’s not actually that reviewable other than: fun space-romp with lots of laughs and one too many monologues. But I am going to use my viewing of Guardians to explain a great story-telling trick.

It’s called ‘Meanwhile, back at the ranch…’

So in the first act of Guardians, all the team is together, battling space worms and bickering about who’s boss. Then, after a series of self-induced mishaps, the team is split in two. Pratt and one half of the team off to the edge of the universe, while Rocket and the other half stay behind to do some repairs.

Now our team is in two we have two parallel stories taking place. This is where the trick comes in.

We follow Pratt and the gang for a while until a cliffhanger appears, and then cut back to Rocket and the gang for a while until a cliffhanger appears, then back to Pratt to solve the first cliffhanger and lead them to another, before cutting back to Rocket who solves his cliffhanger and leads up to another, etc, etc.

We keep revving up the ante, and instead of solving it we cut away to another story. This story is now imbued with the tension created in the other, we are left wondering what happened, and it fills up time as we delve into two stories which, usually, blend back into each other in some way.

In this case, Rocket and the team eventually Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers, before Pratt and the team Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers.

But you get the idea. Try it in your own writing next time a story idea pops by. But me, I gotta go do a thing for now… Meanwhile, back at the Stanzas HQ.




Back at the Ranch, this month’s blog was written by the not-very-rancherly Shane Vaughan.

If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, why not send it to us? We’re looking for reviews, thoughts, essays, maybe even more long-form fiction that we can’t put in our physical zines! 

What’s the harm, send it to If we like it, we’ll put it up!

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

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