My question is if you run into characterization vs. plot conflicts, or unlikeable characters, do you do major changes to your characters to fit the plot or do you make major changes to your plot to fit your characters?
I am running into a problem with my rough draft and some key plot points planned for later books in the series.
One of my key problems is lack of understanding how my characters would react realistically to the situations I put them in. The framework for the plot I established a while ago and before I understood some things I understand now. Some of the situations I put them through could potentially make it unrealistic or seem out of character for them to desire cooperating further with my plot.
Say I have a soldier who has a near death experience, is burned out fighting a war. The plot calls him to go back and join the army to become potentially the next commander. (because he can't view himself able to do anything else). He may be able to decide later, but if I let him make that decision, that means critically readjusting a lot of rough drafts/ book ideas following that choice. (of the two problems this likely is the lesser, since I already figured out an alternative job for him to pursue, but he still has to at least be willing to go back into the army for a period of time in order to pull off the plot I have planned.
Another problem: I might end up with an unforgivable/ unlikeable main character. I wasn't intending this, but I wanted my main soldier character to do some act in his career that can be seen as a valid reason for my main secondary character to be willing to object and leave. I wanted both to have their good and bad points with their decision, but it seems I end up bordering on making either the one making the orders a potential war criminal or the other into being a deserter. I played out both of those ideas in my head and liked how it played on their guilt, as well as the need for redemption for the one giving orders, but my friend pointed out that neither a war criminal nor a deserter would be liked by the audience and would make that character or both characters unforgivable and render my entire series unlikeable. (unless I kill them off which isn't quite an option. I played that out in my head too and decided it would ruin more than keeping them alive.)
I'm getting stuck and I fear a writer's block coming up if I can't work a solution out that can validate the guilt/ shame/ emotions from both sides (the one giving the orders and the one who objected), as well as setting off the desire to make things right for the larger picture without making an unlikeable character.