In every novel the choices characters must make lead to conflict. The more complex the choice or its ramifications, the greater the conflict. Consider some of these difficult choices.
• Choice that’s a leap in the dark. The character has no idea what will be the result of a given choice. All she knows is no choice most certainly will result in great sorrow or pain. Maybe choosing the unknown would result in something better.
• Impossible choices have no clear answer, which means the reader won’t see it coming. If you get your reader thinking, “I could never decide on one of these choices,” you’ll keep them hooked. Create a scenario in which something horrible will happen no matter what the protagonist does.
• Choices that create moral dilemma. Characters make a choice but they don’t really approve of what they’ll have to do as a result of that choice. The choice requires going against their personal beliefs. The “right” answer or course of action is clearly, absolutely in conflict with everything the protagonist knows is right and true. Doing a bad thing for a good cause. Connect the consequence to your character’s ideals.
• Choices that impact others.Your protagonist’s choice may betray, disappoint, or hurt someone he cares about, someone who trusts him. Think: Should she tell what she really saw and betray her friend or husband or child?
• A choice between what the character wants and what the character needs. Is money more important than a loving relationship? She loves the baby but has no way to provide for her. Adoption by good parents would insure a positive future for the baby.
Give your characters hard choices that torture their souls. Strong conflict will result.