Many writer’s struggle in the middle of their novels because they’re too nice to their characters. To ratchet up the excitement and get unstuck, a writer needs to blow up the character’s world. Don’t let the character have what he or she wants even if you have to blow something up. Then sit back and write how your character react.
Ways to Blow Something Up:
Relationships: Who is your character close to? Destroy that relationship. Cause a breach of trust or a misunderstanding. Better yet, if the person isn’t important to the story, kill the character off. But do it in a gut wrenching, tragic, or shocking way. Then make it so that devastating loss puts your protagonist in an emotional tailspin that keeps her from her goals.
Moral Dilemma: We’d like to think our protagonists will act morally and honorably. But don’t make it that easy. Make it so it seems the only way the main character can have what he wants is to do the wrong thing. If it goes against his moral compass, it works even better. Have him decide to do the wrong thing, then have it blow up in his face. If he goes against his deeply held beliefs to get what he wants, and instead, it makes things worse, it blows up his world.
Outside Forces: Nature and acts of God are outside forces your protagonist can’t control, but there are others. Have these things work against her. Let the whole world conspire to keep you protagonist reach her goals.
Antagonist: An antagonist can be an evil psychopath. They are fun to create. But an antagonist can also be a good person who wants what’s best for the main character. The important thing about an antagonist is, no matter what his motives, have him keep the protagonist from his goals.
Flaws: Every character should have flaws. Allow those flaws to keep the character from getting what he desperately wants.
Shock and Awe: The army has a devise called shock and awe. Basically they overdo it. They bomb an area over and over until it devastates the enemy so much, he wants to surrender to make it stop. Don’t only blow up one thing in the character’s life. Use them all. Get out the whole arsenal.
Hopelessness: Bring the character to a point where it looks like there’s no hope. Make it so there’s no way she can reach her goals. But help her somehow have the courage to go on. When a character keeps going when it looks like there’s no hope, it makes a satisfying ending when the character finally achieves her goals.