In an interview with Barking Up The Wrong Tree's Eric Barker, Suber says all great stories have the word "but":
Which is to say inexperienced or poor storytellers structure their material with the words "and" or "then." So "They did this, and then they did that, and then they did this, and then they did that," which produces an episodic structure that doesn't build on anything, and there's no relationship between what came before and what came after.
Focusing on "but" rather than "and" when telling a story leads you to add a surprise or twist:
So Michael Corleone is a cold-blooded murderer, but he does it for his family. Rick Blaine sticks his neck out for nobody, as he tells you three times, but then he does, and sacrifices the only thing he's ever really loved for the cause. [...] It's precisely the fact that things are not what they seem that makes a story interesting.
You have a great idea for a new project—a marketing initiative that’s going to reach new audiences, a revamped tagline for a flagging product, or an efficient new way to organize the team's records. You’re probably feeling excited (way to innovate!) and slightly apprehensive (um, how exactly am I going to convince my boss it’s worthwhile?).
7 years, 10 months ago
You pulled an all-nighter on your latest project. You just got over a stomach bug. You’ve got the post-holiday back-to-work blues. For whatever reason, you’re not at your best, and of all places you could be, you’re at the office.
8 years ago