A good story does have to abide by certain rules and these rules are learned through practice. Andrew Stanton, the Pixar writer and director behind both Toy Story and WALL-E, talks some of these rules in his popular TED Talk, The clues to a great story.
Also related, Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules For Writing Fiction, including one that’s really hard for me:
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.