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Abstraction is the means by which we can transcend distracting arguments over plot versus interactivity. Instead of thinking about a specific instance (a plot), we must learn to think in terms of something more abstract. I refuse to resort to the pseudointellectual term “metaplot.” Instead, “storyworld” describes the same concept more clearly. A storyworld is a complete, closed dramatic universe of ideas about a specific theme. “The Human Condition” is the largest storyworld of all. “Romance” is a smaller storyworld; “Tragic Romance” is an even smaller storyworld. For now, we shall have to confine our efforts to tiny storyworlds that address narrow themes.

Each storyworld contains within it myriad possible plotlines. Just as the variable x can hold an infinity of possible numbers, or a law can address a passel of possible actions, or a scientific law can describe zillions of possible physical actions, or a bank account can hold many different amounts of money, a storyworld contains implicit within it the possibility of many different plots.

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