Once Upon a Time, There Were Linear Stories
Linear stories are straightforward, literally: They present a beginning, a middle, and an end. Wherever we are in the story, we are aware that there are pages preceding and pages to come. Epic poems and, later, theater, followed the more linear progression we might better associate with a scroll or bound book. In all these forms, the linear progression of the story sets our path for us. We do not surf across novels in varying directions. We can’t skip ahead or turn the channel while watching a play. Our place in the scroll, book, or third act indicates how close we are to finishing, and our emotional experience is entirely bound up in time.