Basic Story Formula
The 3 Ps
Person - description, desires, friends/family, enemies/antagonists; as the story progresses, include "movie extras" as needed to flesh out the rest of the population
Place - affects person and problem, and can become a character of its own
Problem - what person wants but is prevented from or finds difficulty in obtaining
Secrets - doled out sparingly, and thus keeping the suspense, rather than being dumped all at once
More later about the whole rollercoaster analogy, also a familiar concept with long-time writers, but a good reminder, especially in November while many of us around the world are typing away on our NaNo offerings!