What is a story?
At schools, I tell children that a story is:
Someone Wanted But So Then
Someone wanted cake but mom said no so the girl took it anyway, then she got in trouble.
But she didn't care so she made another cake, then her mom forgave her. But the dad was jealous so the girl made him some cookies, then everyone was happy.
The essence of story is a character encountering a problem and what that character does about it. The problem should raise a question. Mom said no.
WHAT IS THE GIRL GOING TO DO ABOUT THE MOM SAYING NO?
Every event in the story should lead to the answer of that question.
Linda Arms White used one of her books at the conference to illustrate this point. Too Many Pumpkins is cute, clever, and enjoyable. What is the main character going to do about having too many pumpkins?
Will will your characters do about the problem that raises a question?
Keep on keepin' on...