Brooks's third element of storytelling is theme.
According to Brooks, there is a Theme Continuum, with themeless sitcom (Seinfeld) at one end, outright propaganda (C.S. Lewis) at the other, and exploration (John Irving: The Cider House Rules) dead centre.
Brook's analysis is blurred by his prejudices (sitcoms are not always themeless; they are often propagandist, in fact), but if we put aside his examples, we can see the continuum in evidence all around us, including in our own work.
Theme, however, is hard to avoid and it's really more a matter of effectiveness than of presence.