There’s no point posing a question for a character if the answer is straightforward and easy. If the question is “Fish or chicken?” that isn’t much of a dilemma. Even if the character loves both dishes and is at a loss and can’t make up his mind. It’s just a matter of preference.
If the character can decide later, if he can carry on living quite happily with either choice, if he can say, “Actually, I’ll just have a salad,” then why would the reader care about the outcome?
Problem is, there are plenty of people who will tell you something as though it was terribly important when it isn’t. They explain why they took the scenic route instead of cutting through town. Why they chose blinds instead of curtains. How the Cointreau Orange was the right choice for the living room walls because it matches the Ambre Solaire Beige upholstery of the settee. People are generally convinced everything they think of is as interesting to others as it is to them. But how do you prevent a conversation with someone you just met from turning into a dance of the disguised yawns?
If a man is torn between the blonde and the brunette and eventually, after weighing the pros and cons, decides on the brunette, that isn’t a story, just an expression of personal taste. Reporting the choice made is not enough. The choice has to be interesting and in some way consequential. Remember that if the next step in your story seems natural and obviously what the character would choose to do, then there’s a good chance it will seem obvious and predictable to the reader too.
In order to make sure the reader is being engaged you have to consider what would happen if the character fails to make the right option, or what others will do in response to his choice. Rather than putting down the first thing you think of, consider the consequences. Are there any? And how big a deal are they? To whom? What's stopping him from just going home and forget about it?
If the waiter says chicken or fish? and whichever dish you choose, the chef who cooked the other one is going to get fired, then you have something to think about. It goes beyond what grabs your fancy, and becomes about who you are and what kind of things you are prepared to do.
The problem is if the choice is hard, if the dilemma is vexing, then while it certainly does make the reader think, What's he going to choose?, it also puts the writer in an awkward position: How do I get my character out of this? But that's what the art of storytelling is.
The stakes have to be high enough for it to matter. The choices have to be difficult enough so as not to be obvious. And the decision has to be unexpected enough to be interesting.
If things turn out okay no matter what you choose, then what you choose doesn’t matter. If things turn out bad no matter what you choose and even worse if you don't choose, then you’ve got the start of a story.
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