I write romance, so even from the first word, I know my hero and heroine are going to fall in love, have a happy ending, and forsake all others forever more. But to get there, I have to really make it worth it. Torturing is the name of the game.
Probably the first thing I had to learn was that in order to make it worth it, I had to make my heroes and heroines likable. That way, no one could doubt they deserved a happily ever after. I struggled with creating an Alpha male without making him unlikable. My first attempt didn't work. I kept getting feedback that he wasn't likable at all. Not good. I figured out that even if my hero had a hard edge, he had to have a deep, dark reason that matters to the reader. In other words, he had to have some internal conflict from the get-go. With my stories since then, up-front characterization has been key to creating people I like and people readers like as well.
Once this important component is put in place, it's time to provide external conflict. Time to make their lives miserable. In order to do that well, I have to establish what the character really, really wants, and what would be the worst thing that could happen instead. It can't be so horrible that it can't be overcome (no maiming, if possible), but it needs to be something that creates a bumpy road for the character.
In the end, the characters need to overcome all external and internal conflict and come together. Their goals are either met or changed until they can be met to make everyone happy in the end--to make all the torture worth it.
My own path to love wasn't/isn't smooth, and although fiction can surely take leaps that reality doesn't, real life can give you ideas for possible conflicts in your stories. I love to listen to other peoples' stories about falling in love, but I'll admit that I often use tidbits here and there (so be forewarned, friends, aquaintances, and strangers).
At any rate, as a romance writer, I have to make the happily ever after worth it, and that means creating a bumpy road to love.