Tough Choices: Character-Informed Dilemmas

You only have two choices.(Photo Credit: OffGamers)

Since we’re talking about choices, we are obviously talking about characters. Regardless of the genre or the specific situation, it is the character who has to make the choice. An easy choice is almost no choice at all. While the specifics change from character to character, every character will have needs and wants. When the two or more clash, you can create tough choices.

The clash between a need and a want might be an easy choice… or it might not. Think of the many ways that we procrastinate fulfilling a need by chasing a want. Stopping this cycle can be difficult. A twist is when a need is mistaken for a want, or the reverse situation.

A clash of two or more wants can create a dilemma when the wants are almost the same intensity. A twist on this can be when one of the wants is given its intensity by a time limit, situation, or another character (ex, the real want is to please or impress another character).

A clash of two or more needs can be intrinsically more stressful for the character and engaging for the reader because of the very real possibility that one or more need will be sacrificed. Most often, these will be inner needs unless physical resources (food, shelter, etc.) are scarce.

I carefully avoided giving character-specific examples here (except for in the opening picture) and instead spoke of wants and needs. This is because the unique natures of your characters may contrast sharply with one another. What may be a need or want for your character may or may not even register with your villain. Happy writing!

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