Creating challenges for characters requires in-depth knowledge about them. You need to know their flaws and deepest fears. The challenges cannot be obvious in the way that the reader will automatically know how they are to be resolved. The mountain needs to appear so high, that ascending to the top is impossible. What is the worst thing that could happen to your character? What or who stands in their way? Here are some things you could have happen to your character.
- Give them a back story. Have your character come into the story with a story to tell. In other words, they could have experienced something traumatic before the beginning of the story and now it follows them throughout. Your readers will be instantly engaged with your characters. In one of my stories, my main character lost his best friend in a car accident and now he has to get over it.
- A dark secret. Your characters could have a secret that they don’t want anyone else to know in the story. How long can they keep it? Make it harder for characters to keep others from knowing about their ‘dark sides’. Your readers will be eager to see what happens when the secret gets out.
- Decisions, decisions. Your character could be faced with a tough decision – one that will bring about consequences no matter what choice they make. People can relate to this because they’ve been faced with ‘forks-in-the-road’ at some point in life. Your reader will want to know what happens next. In one of my novels, my hero is faced with someone from his past that wants him dead, and threatens the woman he loves. Will he risk everything he’s worked for, or simply ignore him.
- Put them in a bad spot. A situation that seems impossible to escape. How will they get out? Can they get out? These ‘hook’ your readers and therefore won’t be able to put that book down until your characters are safe. In my novella, my characters are trapped in a room where the entire floor turns red-hot. How will they escape? Think of a similar situation for your characters and see what happens.
You want your books to be so engaging that your reader literally won’t be able to put them down. Every character has a dilemma to face. You see it all the time in movies, TV dramas, etc. What will your character go through? Only you will know what that is and how they’ll get out of it.