Agent Joan Paquette had an interesting presentation the other day wherein she discussed the importance of having a really great antagonist. An antagonist can do so much work for your story--drive the action, create conflict, engage our emotions.
I realized I never think in terms of creating antagonists. But now I'm going to give it a try. I'm going to stop viewing myself as a kindly creator and think of myself (according to Joan's advice) as my fictional universe's evil overlord.
WHICH WILL BE AWESOME.