K: We love those books that tug on our emotions. Some make us laugh and some make us cry. The ones who stay with us for a long time after we read the last pages are the ones with characters we come to care about. We learn to care about the imaginary people as they struggle against great odds, overcome losses and grow as people. But what if they didn't have to struggle?
If a book character succeeds at everything they do, if everyone loves them, if nothing bad ever happens to them, how much would we care to turn the pages? If every chapter ends on a ray of sunshine and every night is clear and filled with the silver shine of a friendly moon, the story would bog down in the stickiness of too much sweetness and goodness. Writers have to be unkind to their characters.
Think of one your favorite literary characters. What loss did they experience? What mistakes did they make? How did they hold up under stress? What event shook their confidence? How did they face heart break and despair? Did the author pile on difficulty after difficulty? Did the character have to crawl, regroup, fall and get up again and again ... how did this beloved person find their way out of their situation? Was their victory bittersweet and marred by emotional and physical costs?
To create a memorable character and write an unforgettable story, don't let your creations off too easily. Being too kind to them might kill your story.
Have you tortured your protagonist enough? Have you read anything recently where the lead character suffered too much?