Writing your novel can feel nearly impossible, but many techniques can help keep your readers engaged. One such method is using parallel stories, which writers can use to create tension and suspense. An effective way to do this is to end your scenes so that you cut between them at moments that leave your readers hanging. Writers sometimes call this technique “Meanwhile, back at the ranch.” The nickname dates back to silent movies when title cards between scenes signaled transitions. In the earliest days, studios didn’t make new cards for each movie but used a set of stock cards: “One Year Later,” “Comes the Dawn,” or “Wedding Bells.” “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch” was the card used most often when the action, for example, cut away from the heroine being tied to a log just as the villain turned on the sawmill. The literary version of this technique dates back to at least Homer. Still, it was probably perfected in the nineteenth century when newly popular magazines serialized novels.