This post was inspired by today's shopping trip. Me, standing in the supermarket, feeling very grumpy because they had been moving stuff around again. Human beings don't like change - or this one doesn't. It occurred to me as I was clumping around, looking for where they'd hidden the flowers and thinking of subjects for a blog post. that change is a essential component of novel plots. The classic is, of course, when the main character's life takes a sudden new direction. Often this is as a result of loss - of a loved one, a job, a home - or all of them. Or maybe gain. Who doesn't love an unexpected inheritance story? It can get a bit subtler too - the favourite trope of friends to lovers is about initiating change and perhaps being afraid to do so for fear of damaging something good. Resistance to change can make a whole plot - the community attempting to thwart a developer or team members reacting to a new boss.
At its essence change too often harbours a threat - even what looks like a positive change, like that inheritance, implies alterations in lifestyle, new responsibilities, choices to be made.
These are 'threats' that everyone might experience - the domestic kind. Nothing to do with serial killers or crime - but of course you can layer that on top just to make it even more interesting.
Asking your characters to deal with changes is what makes them real and relatable. Human dilemmas that readers can recognise. A murder, or meeting that special someone is a dramatic incident, but it's how the protagonists deal with the consequences that make the story. Characters need to grow. That's what the hero's journey is all about. It can be an actual journey, but it is principally about what happens inside. A life progressing on an even keel would be very boring story. It's the job of writers to throw spanners in the works, and we really enjoy it. Catch you hero and heroine at a crossroads and then wait and see. Then you've got a story.
(And yes, I did find the flowers - eventually)