|[Image/quote via Advice to Writers]|
But creating meaningful ways to torture your characters is important to the narrative. Extremely important.
It's easy to set up a character with a conflict when you haven't yet gotten to know them, but as you come to understand their complexities, you -- like a good parent -- want to smooth the road ahead of them instead of throwing giant obstacles in their way.
Think of the movie Twister. A simple enough plot: chase a series of tornadoes trying to get close enough to put a scientific instrument inside a twister, all while grappling with daddy-issues and a marriage that's fallen apart. I'm not saying that Twister is the perfect narrative -- I'm saying that as your characters drive down the country road of the plot, you need to throw stuff at them. Throw a crazed rival scientist at them. Throw a new fiancée at them. Throw a cow at them. Roll a runaway house directly into their path. And if driving through a tumbling house wasn't enough -- throw an oil tanker at them and make it explode.
Keep throwing stuff at your characters -- physical obstacles and emotional ones. Give 'em both barrels. Inflict pain and suffering. Make it hurt so good.
Because we love to read it when it hurts so good.