The boxcar full of innocent people is hurtling toward the cliff. Superman wants to save them but WAIT! Lois Lane is on the cutting board, the laser inching closer and closer to her exposed neck. What’s it gonna be Superman - your love or your duty?
Everyone pretty much agrees about life’s core values. Is FAMILY important? Yes. Is GOOD WORK important? Of course. What about SOCIAL JUSTICE? What about PERSONAL HEALTH?
Yes yes yes. There’s not much room for debate here. We all nod, love and truth amen.
But a novelist tortures his characters by making them choose one value over the other. It starts to get interesting when you ask someone, “which value is more important - FAMILY TIME or PERSONAL HEALTH?”
Superman usually figures out how to succeed in both. But us regular people have to decide: should I take the money job that requires me to work 12 hour days? Should I skip the gym membership so I can spend evenings with my grandparents in the nursing home?
These decisions always hurt. They differentiate you from the people around you. These decisions are the structural support beams for the building that is your Character.