An idea for a story isn't a story, says writing coach Larry Brooks, "unless you juice it with some combination of the Trifecta elements."
Intrigue. "A story is often a proposition, a puzzle, a problem and a paradox," Brooks says. Intrigue arises "when you (the reader) find yourself hooked because you have to know what happens… or whodunnit… or what the underlying answers are." But intrigue need not depend on drama or mystery. "Sometimes intrigue is delivered by the writing itself. A story without all that much depth or challenge can be a lot of fun, simply because the writer is funny. Or scary. Or poetic. Or brilliant on some level that lends the otherwise mundane a certain relevance and resonance."
Emotional resonance. A story provokes a feeling, Brooks says. "It makes us cry. Laugh. It makes us angry. It frightens, it seduces, it confounds and compels. Every love story, every story about injustice and pain and children and reuniting with families and forgiveness—name your theme—is dipping into the well of emotional resonance for its power."
Vicarious experience. A story takes for a ride we'll remember. The juice of a story "isn’t so much the dramatic question or the plucking of your heart strings as much as the ride itself," Brooks says. "The places you’ll go, the things you’ll see, the characters you’ll encounter, the things you’ll experience." A story gives you "an E-ticket on the Slice of Life attraction."