When my kids, individually or together, encounter a snafu, small or large, my first instinct is to swoop in and diffuse any upset or conflict. I like to kiss boo-boos, make them comfortable and ease their troubles.
The same is true with my fictional characters. At the first hint of distress, I rush in to smooth things out and fit them into a hunky-dory box. My mind likes things tied up neat and pretty, I guess.
And where does this get me? In a boring boat without the slightest movement. (Think about that, for just a half-second.)
How are my kids going to learn their way through life if I make every little thing easier for them? How will they learn conflict resolution or problem-solving skills, if I don't give them the chance to test themselves?
How will my characters create the right friction? How will their stories evolve into enough intrigue and emotion, if I don't let things play out at their worst on the page?
With my kids, I'll sit back a little more often and let them try to figure things out. It's hard for this mom, but it's necessary.
With my characters, I'm working to create more depth and issue, raising the stakes, as Donald Maass tells us to do in Writing the Breakout Novel. Sure, it's more work for this writer. But it's necessary.
It'll be better for all of us, real or imagined.