Of course, a protagonist has to get in trouble. He (or she) has to bump up against Big Problems. She (or he) has to face Mind-Crushing Challenges. If the protagonist does not have these experiences, he-she-it is likely to give the reader (or viewer, in the case of my daughter, who chronically fast forwards through scenes of movies that even seem to hint at becoming embarrassing for the protagonist—much less terrifying and/ or disgusting) a pretty dang bland experience.
This I know. This I even believe to be true. And yet it has proven incredibly difficult for me to put into practice.
I never set up a plot problem so big that I can’t immediately see the way out of it (and no doubt, the reader can see just as clearly!). I think at some not-too-deep level, I’m worried I won’t be able to concoct a way out—and neither will my character.
But that all changes today. Today, my heroine loses her mentor. And the man she loves. And she finds herself the quarry of not one, but two hunters. Two hunters that she will have to confront in a decisive fashion, despite being absolutely on her own and in a weakened condition. Plus she still has to figure out what to do next.