As a writer I tend to make things too easy for my protagonist. The reason is simple: I fall in love with my characters. I want my heroes to experience happy, productive lives, work out their issues in private, and trip blissfully into a fictional Happily Ever After.
Which is about as exciting for the reader as watching cats sleep.
Face it: Human nature is to focus on the anomaly. We don't notice all the cars safely whizzing by on the freeway--we see the lone nut weaving in and out of traffic like a crazed pinball. At the mall it's the weirdly audacious or scary-seeming person who catches our eye, never the mom in a T-shirt with three kids in tow.
Writers like me need to overcome our innate desire to shield our characters from evildoers, bad decisions, and rotten luck. In fact, like cruel puppet masters, we need to pile these on our beloved heroes with increasing ferocity until readers simply cannot look away--at least until they know whether the hero triumphed.
So when my instincts say: "Rescue her, quick!" I must type, "She hung there, breathless, fingers clawing for purchase on the crumbling ledge. A fist-sized chunk broke off in her hand and suddenly she was airborne, tumbling backward over the abyss, eyes wide with terror..."
As a very helpful editor once stated: We need to chase our characters up a tree--and then throw rocks at them.