"This American Life" is so popular now that it's easy to come across stories or videos featuring Ira Glass talking about what makes a great TAL story. Nevertheless, I'll read or listen to them every time, hoping to internalize what he's talking about.
Here's such a piece in The Seattle Times. In it, Glass talks about the need for surprise in a story, something that's unexpected buy key to what happened. I was drawn to this quote: "Even stories of life-changing, traumatic events can lack surprise," Glass said.
How many times are we attracted to stories of people who have overcome an illness, or experienced a traumatic event, or something like that, and we think that's enough? It's not that those can't be good stories. But the best stories, as Glass knows, are ones that are at least a little bit unpredictable. Find those stories, and tell them.