Set them up, and knock ’em down.
Have you ever heard that how people respond to conflict reveals a lot about them? The same goes for your characters. These choices present the chance to create empathy, therein giving your readers moments to identify with the protagonist (or supporting characters, or even the villains).
Each choice ideally should be bringing them closer to the transformation in their arc, one step at a time – though it’s definitely fine if this sometimes takes them a step back. The journey is the most important part.
An easy way to create the setup of your story, is by using character choices. Leave nuggets of information about how a character responds to situations, therefore making it more believable when they use this skillset to overcome issues later. The readers will know (and believe) them capable of it.
Earlier in this challenge, I asked you to write a list of what your villain could do to upset/provoke the protagonist.
It’s time to expand.
Think about the protagonist and their skill set. Think of how they respond to high pressure and conflict. How will their skills help them overcome what the antagonist throws at them?
Each of these obstacles and subsequent choices are creating the setup and payoff of your story.