"A bitter choice creates a balance edge, tipping the character and audience one way or the other."
Adding more nuance to the defining moments in our story can make it a more satisfying read. Here's my interpretation of what a bitter decision is:
- There are two or more choices.
- All choices have significant downsizes.
- The bitter decision challenges the character and reveals their major flaw.
As I think about the novels I've written and am considering, there are usually five or six key decisions my protagonist needs to wrestle. Not all can be bitter choices, but it's helpful to ensure all of these plot points are satisfying and complex.
Do they run the background check on their new love because there's something not quite right about their story?
Do they set up a sting that no one else knows about and risk failing with no help in sight if it goes sideways?
Do they gamble on their partner's life to safe another?
And I will challenge myself that if I don't have half a dozen questions like this my plot might not be there yet.