If there's one law to writing it's make you're character's life as hard as possible, and then make it harder still. I'm a big of Bernard Cornwell and the Sharpe series and was watching one of the Sean Bean dvds last night, Sharpes Command (I think). So, we have our hero, Captain Sharpe. In the opening scene he's lost his sympathetic commanding officer, Lawford (forgive the slight inaccuracies regarding names, it was late and I was making notes simultaneously). New boss hates him and turns up with his arch enemy, Sargeant Hawkswill.
1. He loses his captaincy, back to being a lieutenant.
2. He loses his command of the Green Jackets.
3. His right hand man (Harper) is flogged and made a Private.
4. His lover is a spy trapped in a city with their new-born daughter (who he hasn't seen) being beseiged by the British.
5. Hawkswill has the hots of his lover and is a cruel and trecherous bastard.
6.The only hope for promotion is to lead the Forelorn Hope, which is a sucide mission.
7. Wellington won't let him lead it anyway.
Cornwell suggest that if you want to be a good writer, take a book off the shelves relevant to you and analysis it. Break it down and see how it all fits together. You could do worse that try it on the Sharpe series. Twenty+ published and still going strong. He's obviously doing something very right!
Ok, I'm off to see if I can add a seige into my book...