Life is a series of choices.
They are the keys to great fiction.
Thank you, Donald Maass, for emphasizing this technique. Hard choices make for powerful climaxes.
Force your hero into making a choice between
1) Action that will force him to lose what he holds most dear
2) Action that will force someone he loves to lose what she holds most dear
Be sure we know ahead of time what those dear things are. Maybe seeing them in action twice before.
In The Help, the most resistant maid spills the beans, though she takes a big risk and she is bitter about her lot in life symbolized by the journalist she has to spill the beans to.
In Pet Cemetery Steven King must choose between allowing his dead son to rest in peace or let him be reanimated knowing he’ll come back as a murderous, mad beast.
In The Godfather: Michael accepts the honor and responsibility of being the godfather of Connie’s son at the baptism simultaneous to a mass hit ordered by him.
In Fiddler on the Roof, the third daughter must choose between her family and her lover who is heading to Siberia.
In the first Star Wars trilogy, Luke must battle his own father, Darth Vader.
In The Matrix Neo accepts that he’s The One and sacrifices himself to save Zion.
And my favorite protagonist, Harold, in Harold and Maude, must choose between suicide after this 80-year-old lover’s death and the unlikely option of continuing to live with the new gusto that she taught him.
In one of my novels, Catharsis, my protagonist must admit she hired and encouraged the man who turned out to be the killer.
In another, American Moon, my protagonist hits her beloved father with her car while backing up to meet her lover who she believes is her ticket to becoming legal in the U.S.
Life is a series of choices and in fiction they need to be big choices.