Ok, it's confession time...
As much as I love a scintillating (to borrow Bekah's word from her last post) story with plenty of conflict, I often hated being too mean to my own protagonist.
Yes, I found it very, very challenging to give my protagonist, the illustrious Sydney Alexander from my first two novels, too many hardships or characters impediments. But as I read through my first draft for the 1,356th time before submitting it to my publisher, I realized I was taking it way, way too easy on my girl.
And she was actually becoming borderline boring as a result.
Just like me and you, nobody, even the potential Mother Teresa you're dreaming up for your work in progress, is perfect—and that's a GOOD thing.
So make sure you're giving your leading ladies and men all kinds of flaws and sticky situations to deal with. Your readers will enjoy the ride and will be able to relate to your characters so much better.
Take it from me, conflict (when it comes to novel-writing, anyway) is a good, good thing. Especially if it's not contrived.