As I’ve posted on the subject of making characters suffer, I also agree with William Faulkner, author of The Sound and the Fury, quote “In writing, you must kill all your darlings”. This basically means you must be willing to edit ruthlessly, but I feel it also speaks of the actual killing (or murdering) your characters.
The death of a character often leads to an integral piece of storytelling. The loss of family, the quest for revenge, or the grief that’s so overwhelming the character must find healing.
Death changes people, the impact carried by the other characters to make great changes in their lives. Adding danger and threat, without any real consequence such as death or loss, leaves the reader with a false sense of tension. “Nothing will really happen’”.
Consider stories where an important character suddenly dies. This adds tremendous tension because the reader ends up wondering who could go next.
To edit ruthlessly is to understand that anything of your writing, the witty, wise, and wonderful prose you’ve set to paper, is open season. What you consider as articulate and wonderfully description may lend to weakening your plot. If its not moving forward, if its not adding tension or development, slash away and remove it.