You ever get that feeling that you just aren't making things rough enough for your characters? Like things are moving along a little too swimmingly and it's time to throw another wrench in?
(I know, it's called conflict. I find I do better if I approach writing in more figurative terms than analytical. I could analyze the crap out of my writing ... and in doing so, I'd analyze the life out of it, too.)
This has been particularly on my mind lately since my current WIP is an expansion of a short story. The short has ended up being just a launching point, more or less, and I know where the general arc is going. But to get this to novel length, I realized I needed to pull several wrenches that were still sitting comfortably in the toolbox. More speed bumps and detours for my MC, all tying together to shape the final conflict. (Hopefully.)
I've also noticed I tend to opt for smaller wrenches when larger ones would be more interesting, powerful, motivating, etc. Why do I shy off from making things really hard on my characters? Maybe because a part of me always wants things to work out and be happy. (Hello, optimist!) Maybe because I get mad at certain writers for doing things like killing off certain characters. (She knows I'm glaring at her right now.)
But a writer's gotta do what a writer's gotta do.
At the same time, I don't want to do things just to emotionally manipulate my readers. Annoyed as I am with that writer, I know she killed that character for a reason. There should always be a reason, even if it isn't glaringly obvious on the surface.
So my goal on this current project is to go ahead and make things hard for my MC. Give her reason to doubt, reason to despair, reason to possibly make the wrong choice(s). Because hopefully doing so will make the resolution that much more satisfying when she finally gets there.
Do any of you have similar struggles with getting your characters to, well, struggle enough? Do any of you tend toward the opposite extreme from me, using a hefty torque wrench when a little half-inch crescent wrench would be more appropriate? (Does doing so result in a soap opera?) Any ideas about finding that balance between way-too-hunky-dory and letting Murphy's Law become more fundamental than gravity?
Please, let me know. My MC is eyeballing the latest wrench in my hand, and I'm afraid she might try to wrestle me for it.