I can't tell you how much I'm learning from James Scott Bell's book, Plot & Structure. I wish I had read it years ago!
When writing the middle of our novels, Bell says we should "ARM yourself for confrontation." He defines ARM like this:
A = Action
R = Reaction
M = More Action
This guy knows how to teach! Bell says that in order to keep readers interested, we should not only think about ARM, but we should also stretch the tension and raise the stakes.
When stretching tension, we should remember to set it up properly. Bell writes, "Always make sure scenes of tension have something to be tense about." We can stretch the physical tension by slowing down and paying more attention to detail. For emotional tension, Bell says, "When a character is in the throes of emotional turmoil, don't make things easy on her."
When raising the stakes, we can accomplish this through plot, character, or society. Either way, Bell says, "If you can create a character worth following and a problem that must be solved--and then along the way raise the stakes even higher--you're going to have the essential elements of a page-turner."
How about you? Do you have fun shooting arrows at your characters? Or, do you like them so much you want to play nice?