Not long ago I was addressing the collective faculty at a large arts college in San Francisco. The subject of discussion was, "What creates a feeling of 'story' in a two-dimensional image, even an abstract one?"
I gave my theory, explaining that more than 150 elements are commonly found in stories. Some of these elements are necessary, and many, if not most, are optional but not uncommon. Some occur in a story just once, some several times, and some recurrently.
If you were to take a slice of a story at any of the points where these elements exist, and made an image of that cross-section, you'd have an image that implies or evokes a "story" in progress.
For instance, opposition is common in many stories. A picture that portrays two opposing people or forces even an abstract image that conveys this feeling will feel like it "has story" and will be emotionally engaging.