A story is more than stuff that happens to a person. And yet, if a friend were to tell you something that happened to them at work or at school or wherever, you wouldn’t be uninterested.
In fact, if it was something amusing or surprising or touching in some way, it might even be quite compelling. This incident might involve coincidence, luck, randomness and have no real conclusion, but that won’t necessarily stop you hanging on every word.
However, put that same story down in print, and it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Now it’s contrived and pointless and banal.
Why? What makes fiction—whether it be a short story or a novel—different from real life? And how can we use this difference to help create more engaging and entertaining stories?