An alternative and less evident way, is to symbolize the story.
As an example, take the rich (but often obscure) traditions of renaissance and baroque portrait painting: the clothes, posture, lighting, props, even materials, all (potentially) tell a story of the person depicted.
To illustrate this, let's have a look at Da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine, a portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, who was one of Da Vinci's patron Ludovico Sforza's mistresses. The symbolism behind the seemingly incidental addition of the ermine, although inconclusively, has been ascribed to several factors: the sitter's last name, her lover, to his participation in The Order of the Ermine, or to the purity and moderation of the young lady. Her relatively plain clothing tells us she was not of nobility.*
Additionally, the colours, her hand, her coiffure, her posture, the dark (although possibly blackened) background, along with hidden features like compositional geometry, all might and could have been used to convey information, however transparent or esoteric.
For a chronological "series of things", this might not be the right approach exclusively: nevertheless, it can be used in conjunction with the elements mentioned in the other answer, to tell whatever story you want to tell in a richer and more profound manner, as the examples given there doubtlessly have.