In many of my stories, the Main Character is often in conflict with the very place that he or she is living. I find that if this is set up correctly, the main character's desire to overcome his or her problem(s) will practically write the story itself.
The initial rough sketches for The Monkey Goes Bananas had no words at all. In fact, it had no real "story" either. But the idea of a monkey trying to cross the shark-infested water to get a bunch of bananas on another island was so funny, that showing his failed attempts BECAME the story. Exactly how the story ends though, was discussed and changed all the way up to the final drafts.
"What does the Main Character want?" and "Why can't he get it?" Relying on these basic story questions, The Monkey and the Bee pulls the reader in from the very first page, then ups and ups the stakes until the very end.