Does anyone go through hardships to quite the same degree that our characters do? I put mine through the wringer. Sometimes, I complain about days where I work too long and my brain turns to jelly, but my characters might as well be working in a coal mine. They slog on foot for long hours. They live through dangerous conditions. They never seem to stop to go to the restroom. Hell, there ARE no restrooms.
Of course, this is offset by the fact that my characters have companions so stalwart and love interests so devoted that they can survive all their trials and tribulations. Sometimes, I like to make those trials extra hard, just to see if the friends can help the main character through again. Sometimes, what the story needs is to break a character, or to put her through so much that she changes, sometimes even in a way that I didn’t expect.
What about you? Do you try and break ‘em? Or do you love your characters so that you’re tempted to kid gloves?