One of the things I found when re-reading Techniques of the Selling Author by Dwight V. Swain again and again was the definition of a story. Each time I read these words, I have to stop and think. "A story is the record of how someone deals with danger."
What does he mean by danger? Danger is many things and each danger is specific to the someone you create to show in your story. I just finished typing an old, old story of mine and the danger the hero faces brings him face to face with his past. The danger comes when he faces the same situation though changed by time and place. Danger could be for a character the refusal of a girl for a date, the laughter of friends or enemies.
What does this situation do but create tension. Tension brings danger. This tension will drive the story forward. Then comes change. Any change in a situation produces tension so how does the character see the change. Can it be a challenge, can it mean failure. Will the character fight or fly from the change.
Much of the reaction of a change is triggered by past experience or knowledge. So this can alter the character's reaction and then action to the change.
So remember each story starts with a change, small or large that forces the character through tension to act or flee.