A dilemma is a major conflict driver in a script. Find a good dilemma for your main character and you’ll practically have a good movie right there.
A dilemma is a situation in which you have two options and both are WORSE than the other. It is the ultimate mental torture for anyone.
A second condition for a good dilemma is that we must also TAKE CARE OF IT. A dilemma can be a TECHNICALLY dilemma. But when it comes down to it, it could be silly. Example, a millionaire executive’s “dilemma” about whether to vacation at a luxury resort in the Bahamas or have a one-on-one fundraiser with a Swiss banker. Who cares?
Here are some good dilemmas. that are guaranteed to push your story relentlessly:
General dilemma of HISTORY to lead a CHARACTER through a movie:
A man cannot confess that his mother has killed a man because then his mother would go to jail for life. But if he doesn’t, he can go to jail himself because he is one of the main suspects. And if you go to jail, you may die because you need close medical attention for the X-condition.
SITUATIONAL Dilemma to drive a SEQUENCE:
A woman trapped in a burning elevator can put out the flames by going out and reaching for the extinguisher. But if you do, there is a chance it is too late and your blind child will be killed in the fire. And if she lets her child out, the child may not find the extinguisher as he is blind and BOTH can die.
A book that does an EXCELLENT job of exposing the importance of dilemmas for screenwriters is “Writing a Great Movie: Four Advanced Tools for the Playwright” by Jeff Kitchen. Highly recommended
To your full color widescreen dreams!