First of all, good luck to all of those in the path of Hurricane Matthew. Our prayers go out to you; that looks like a very nasty storm.
Recently I was looking around Twitter and I came across a startling number of tweets talking about character development, and how you need to make them suffer in order to grow. What’s startling isn’t so much the idea, but the almost bullying way these people try and make their points. It’s like you HAVE to make your characters suffer… or else you’re a baby and you shouldn’t be writing (their words, not mine).
Well. Baby business aside, that’s fine if you’re writing that sort of book. But it just so happens that the vast majority of readers don’t like watching a character wallow in misery- will in fact stop reading if they have to watch a character wallow in misery. And it’s all in vain anyway.
Despite what people tell you, you don’t have to make your characters miserable; they just need a challenge. They need something that naturally pushes them to try harder and grow as individuals. Force this and try to go to the extreme, the reader will spot what you’re doing a mile away. I guarantee it.