But you don’t like conflict in your own life. No one does. You’d like to be nice to your characters. Give them easy lives.
Get over it. You’ve got to have conflict to keep people turning pages.
How to set up conflict? If you just wander into your project with a character who kind of wants something, you may be setting up a boring plot. Instead, find a character who REALLY wants something, and for a good reason. If the character fails to get it, he will be not just bummed out but experiencing extreme loss.
As writing guru James Scott Bell puts it, the stakes have to be death. Physical death, professional death, something that feels like death to your main character. And, of course, your reader has to get that it seems like death, even if it is actually something any other person might shrug at.
To have a great story with high stakes, you need an antagonist who provides huge obstacles for the hero or heroine. This can be a mean-hearted villain, or it can be somebody who doggedly stands in the way, doing his duty, like the police inspector Javert in Les Mis. Or the antagonist can be nature, or any number of things that stand in the way of the hero getting to his goal.
To crank up the conflict, consider several things that could happen next for your character, and then (much of the time) choose the very worst one. You’ve got to put your character through the wringer in your story.
What you’re doing as you draw your main character through disasters and the occasional upbeat relief moment is drawing an emotion painting. Your reader wants an emotional experience from reading your book, and the tension that comes from an intense struggle of some kind provides the reason for that.
Remember these things, and you’ll find plenty of readers.