Don't Duck Trouble. More good advice, and it bears some resemblance to advice I heard once from Charles Baxter: Make a Scene. By which he meant that as humans we tend to avoid confrontation. We choose the path of least resistance. We try to de-escalate an argument. But that's boring in fiction, and so Baxter says: let 'er rip. Avoid nothing. That's basically what Bickham is saying, I think: "In fiction, the best times for the writer--and the reader--are when the story's main character is in the worst trouble. Let your character relax, feel happy and content, and be worried about nothing, and your story dies. Pour on all sorts of woes so your poor character is thoroughly miserable and in the deepest kind of trouble, and your story perks right up--along with your reader's interest." And he's talking not about what he calls "adversity"--obstacles or forces in the character's way over which he has no control--which may be useful and create sympathy for the character. But he is talking about "conflict"--a "fight of some kind between people with opposing goals." Words to live by.
#9 Don't Duck Trouble