I just finished writing a few scenes in the Gray Men where some pretty nasty stuff happens to the characters. This brings to mind a mantra that should resonate in every writer's mind: Torture Your Characters. Make their lives hard. Physically and emotionally. Take them to their breaking points. See what you can take from them. Threaten what is dear to them. It's what makes for compelling fiction.
My wife and I are binge watching Game of Thrones on HBO Go. We're almost done with the third season. There's maybe no one better at torturing (sometimes literally) characters than George R.R. Martin. If you've never seen the series or read the Song of Ice and Fire books, be prepared. No one is safe from death, dismemberment, and losing those they love. Martin certainly never plays it safe with his characters, and neither should the rest of us.
Put them through the wringer. Then put some fight in them and make them claw their way out of trouble. Your story will be better for it.