User:Anchoress/Meanwhile, back at the ranch
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Meanwhile, back at the ranch encapsulates a writing style for plot summaries that is to be avoided and/or improved upon in order to make a plot summary encyclopedic.
The phrase 'Meanwhile, back at the ranch' is used humorously in social situations to break up an uncomfortable silence, often brought on by a deterioration in the conversation. The phrase denotes a 'return' to previously-followed action, like a narration returning to, or focusing on, a storyline taking place off-camera.
When describing a work of fiction, the easiest thing to do is to formulate a scene-by-scene reconstruction/summary. This method is particularly attractive when attempting to construct a comprehensible plot summary from a story that is non-linear or where action is taking place simultaneously in two or more different locations. A scene-by-scene distillation is a useful step in formulating a brief, complete, encyclopedic plot summary, but it is only one step in the process. Meanwhile, back in the present, Meanwhile, back in the future, Meanwhile, back on the Death Star, Meanwhile, back at Efrafa, etc are the types of phrases that denote an incomplete or weak plot summary, because they indicate that the author(s) of the summary have been trying to retain the linearity of the finished product (the work of fiction), rather than the storyline itself.