Recently I was discussing the first draft of a novel. The climax came when the main character was torn between a job presentation - her boss claimed she would let everyone at work down if she didn't make it in that day - and her baby's health. Now, call me irresponsible, but there aren't many circumstances when I'd put my work ahead of a very ill child and none of them seemed applicable here.
I'm prepared to accept that, had I read the whole novel rather than a synopsis, I would have been swept away by the main character's dilemma, but in general compelling stories feature characters making difficult choices. The choices need to be proper ones, and the more evenly weighted they are, the more compelling your story.
Does Superman save Lois Lane, or the world? Does he follow his head, or his heart? Will Lizzie accept the repulsive Mr Collins and save her family fortune? Or turn him down and risk penury? Frodo could return to his beloved Shire and leave the ring at Elrond's house. Pip could give up his snobbish aspirations of being a gentleman and go back to Joe Gargery's forge and marry Biddy. Would you shop your child to the police? Or would you burn everything that linked them with the crime?
The more compelling the arguments are on both sides, the more compelling your story.