Something I'm noticing in submissions and contest entries is the turning point that doesn't turn anything-- the big event (usually around the middle of the story) which has no plot effect and the characters never contemplate.
Hmm. How does it happen? Well, first if you write out of sequence (as I do often), you need to carefully place big events when you assemble the narrative. I might have dreamed up (when I write this way, it's often subconsciously inspired) some big moment where the main character realizes her beloved mentor has betrayed her. And I write it up, make it dramatic and heartwrenching. And then I write other scenes that come to me in blinding flashes. Then I have to think about what goes where, right? And presumably write connecting scenes between the big scenes. (Kids, don't try this at home.)
The problem is figuring out what goes where... and why (what leads up to it and causes it), and what effect the event is going to have in the next scenes. But in some of these stories I've seen lately, that doesn't happen. The event is there, fully dramatized, powerful, but then... it's like it didn't happen. But you know, if she discovered her mentor betrayed her, there'd be an effect. She'd be less likely to trust, more wary, angry maybe. She'd think about what happened. Something would happen and she'd automatically think of asking her mentor for advice, but then stop-- oh, right. He betrayed me.
When there's no effect, the narrative propulsion sputters to a halt (you mean, there's no consequence to events?) and the author's credibility is damaged (maybe she forgot?). I think this happens sometimes because we have a purpose for the scene (this is meant to isolate her so she can trust only the villain, maybe), or even sort of a meta-purpose ("I want the reader to know something about the mentor that will be important in the sequel") or a desire to expound a theme ("Never put your trust in men").
But scenes, especially important scenes, should have two primary purposes: To advance the plot, and to develop the character. Whatever other reasons a scene might have, the reader expects it to advance the plot and develop the character. If the character has no reaction to the event, no change, then no matter how many other purposes get fulfilled, it's a failed scene. And this becomes even more glaring when it's a turning point scene, with a dramatic or emotional event that really ought to have great effect.
I can just imagine all of us shaking our heads and saying confidently, "I never do that." But it's so common that maybe we do and just don't notice. I know the way I write (often out of sequence) creates a real hazard here. Sometimes when a scene is inserted into an existing sequence, we might not recognize all the ways it changes the story and character, or the slight or great modification it might make in the theme or message, or the ways it might affect the interaction or feeling between characters. The reader, reading in sequence, will be trying to make sense of this, and we might have to --yes, once again-- read as a reader to notice the disconnect and how to fix it.
Has anyone faced this issue and dealt with it somehow?